The Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, arrived yesterday to South Korea as part of a pastoral visit to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Diocese of Suwon.
Cardinal Filoni will also meet with South Korean president Park Geun-hye, as well as, the Bishops Conference of Korea along with priests, men and women religious, seminarians and lay people in the country. The Cardinal will also visit the Shrine of Chonjinam, which is also known as the birthplace of the Catholic Church in Korea.
In an interview with Fides News Agency, Archbishop Andrew Yeom Soo-jung of Seoul expressed his gratitude for Cardinal Filoni’s visit, saying the Korean Church was blessed by his presence.
“The Prefect’s visit is an incentive for us to be a missionary Church,” he said. “The Church of Korea has received much support from other Churches. Now it is time for us to help Churches in need, especially in Southeast Asia, where there is urgent need of work of evangelization.”
“I think this is the mission that God has given to our diocese and to the Church of Korea,” he added.
The Archbishop of Seoul spoke at length on the history of the Church in Korea, which now boasts more than 5 million Catholics. Catholicism arrived to Korea in the early 17th century through several “Korean diplomats who met Jesuit priests in China.”
“The priests gave them books on the Christian faith, so some Korean scholars began to study the new religion, comparing it with the neo-Confucianism, traditional philosophy in Korea. Later they organized the first Catholic community,” he explained.
Despite persecutions against Catholics in the early 1800s, the Catholic Church continued to thrive as missionaries continued to spread the faith in Korea.
“Since then, with the support of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the Catholic Church in Korea has grown and prospered,” Archbishop Soo-jung said. “Cardinal Filoni’s visit today confirms the support and blessing of the Holy See and opens us to new opportunities for evangelization.”