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On Francis’ Visit to Korea

“Christ does not abolish what is good, but carries it on, and brings it to fruition.”

Here is a translation of the address Pope Francis gave at this morning’s General Audience in the Paul VI Hall in the Vatican:

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Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

A few days ago, I made an Apostolic Visit to Korea and now, together with you, I thank the Lord for this great gift. I was able to visit a young and dynamic Church, founded on the witness of the martyrs and animated by a missionary spirit in a country where ancient Asian cultures and the perennial newness of the Gospel meet – both of them meet. 

I would again like to express my gratitude to my dear brother Bishops of Korea, the Lady President of the Republic, to the other authorities and to all those who contributed to my visit.

The significance of this apostolic journey can be condensed into three words: memory, hope, testimony.

The Republic of Korea is a country that has had a remarkable and rapid economic development. Its people are hardworking, disciplined, ordered and have maintained the strength inherited from their ancestors.

In this situation, the Church is the guardian of memory and hope: it is a spiritual family in which adults convey to young people the torch of faith received from the elderly; the memory of the witnesses of the past becomes the new testimony in the present and hope for the future. In this perspective, you can note the two main events of this trip: the beatification of 124 Korean Martyrs, in addition to those already canonized 30 years ago by St. John Paul II; and the meeting with the young people, on the occasion of the Sixth Asian Youth Day.

A young person is always looking for something that makes life worth living, and the martyr bears witness to something, indeed, of Someone for whom it is worth giving one’s life. This reality is Love, it is God, who took flesh in Jesus, Witness of the Father. In the two highlights of the trip for young people, the Spirit of the Risen Lord has filled us with joy and hope, that young people will bring in their countries and that they will do so much good!

The Church in Korea also preserves the memory of the primary role that the laity had both at the dawn of the faith, and in the work of evangelization. In that land, in fact, the Christian community was not founded by missionaries, but by a group of young Koreans in the second half of 1700, who were fascinated by some Christian texts, studied them thoroughly and chose them as a rule of life. One of them was sent to Beijing to be baptized, and then, in turn, his friends. From that first group developed a large community, which from the beginning and for about a century, suffered violent persecution, with thousands of martyrs. Therefore, the Church in Korea is founded on faith, on missionary efforts and martyrdom of lay faithful.

The first Korean Christians intended themselves to be as a model of the apostolic community of Jerusalem, practicing brotherly love which transcends all social difference. So I encouraged today’s Christians to be generous in sharing with the poor and the excluded, according to the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 25: “Whatever you did to the least of these my brethren, you did it to me “(v. 40).

Dear brothers, in the history of the faith in Korea, Christ does not cancel cultures, Christ does not cancel cultures. He doesn’t suppress the progress of the people who, through the centuries and millennia, seek truth and practice love for God and neighbor. Christ does not abolish what is good, but carries it on, and brings it to fruition.

However, who Christ fights and defeats is the evil one, who sows discord between man and man, between nation and nation; who generates exclusion because of idolatry of money; who sows poison into the hearts of young people. Yes, Jesus Christ has fought and won him with his sacrifice of love. And if we remain in Him, in His love, we too, like the martyrs, can live and witness his victory. With this faith, we prayed, and even now we pray that all the children of the land of Korea, who suffer the consequences of wars and divisions, are able to make a journey of brotherhood and reconciliation.

This trip was illuminated by the feast of the Assumption of Mary into Heaven. From above, from where Christ reigns, the Mother of the Church accompanies the journey of God’s people, supporting even the most tiring steps, comforting those who are undergoing trials and keeping open the horizon of hope. Through her maternal intercession, may the Lord always bless the Korean people, the gifts of peace and prosperity; and bless the Church in this land, because it is always fruitful and full of the joy of the Gospel. Thank you.

[Working Translation by ZENIT]

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