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Seoul Cardinal: 70 Years of Division Is a ‘Painful Reality’

Feast of Assumption Marked Anniversary of Division of Koreas

The feast of the Assumption this year marked the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Korea from Japan and the division of North and South Korea (Aug. 15, 1945).

The archbishop of Seoul said it is a “painful reality” that “one ethnic race that speaks the same language” would be turned against each other for 70 years, and he called on the faithful to pray and to offer concrete assistance to the North.

Here is the full text of a message from Cardinal Yeom Soo-jung, archbishop of Seoul, for this year’s feast.

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My dearest brothers and sisters!

May God’s blessings and peace be upon you all.

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Assumption of Mary, Our Lady Queen of Peace. We remember the fact that “by her maternal charity, she cares for the brethren of her Son, who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and cultics, until they are led into the happiness of their true home” (Lumen 62). The assumption of Mary granted us the hope that as Christians, we are allowed to participate in the resurrection of Christ. Since the early church, the Virgin Mary is regarded as “Mother of the Church and Mother of our faith.” We pay respect and great admiration to the Virgin Mary because she is specially blessed by the Lord for her deep faith.

All her life, Mary faithfully listened to and believed in the Lord. “I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). With such proclamation of faith, she took great part in the history of the Lord’s salvation. Mary lived a life of difficulties and pain, but she remained a life of devotion to the Lord’s calling. 

For our country, this year marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation and the division of North and South Korea. It is a painful reality that one ethnic race that speaks the same language turn against each other for 70 long years. There have been many complications, but we never stopped our effort for reconciliation and peace. The conflict and enmity between North and South Korea still remains. Conflict, division, hatred are rampant throughout our society. That is why we should put in more effort into the peaceful unification between North and South Korea; we should continue to work on the communication and social integration in the Korean society. As the example of Mary, we should believe strongly in the Lord and never lose our hope even in the darkest of times; for nothing will be impossible for God (Luke 1:37).

As Christians, one of the most important things for us to do is to pray. In this time of division, we should pray continuously for the reconciliation and peace in the Korean peninsula, peace in Asia, and world peace. It is through prayers that our country will be able to make a fresh start of peace and reconciliation, putting all division and hatred behind.

We should also put our prayers into real actions. By providing aids and support to our North Koreans brothers and sisters, we are sowing the seeds of peace and unification. It is time for both governments to begin the dialogue of collaboration, peace policy, denuclearization, and even future prosperity. To fulfil the peace of God, we need the determination and courage to fulfil a common good instead of thinking about our own interest; and “there will be glory, honor, and peace for everyone who does good” (Romans 2:10). 

On the Feast of the Assumption of Mary, we pray that the Lord’s blessings will bestow upon us to heal the wound and pain of division. May the Lord grant us courage and strength to fulfil peace and unification of our country. 

We pray to the Blessed Virgin Mary for the wisdom to overcome our problems and difficulties so that “a better hope is introduced through which we draw near to God” (Hebrews 7:19).

Virgin Mary, Mother of Peace! Pray for our country. Pray for the genuine reconciliation and peace in the Korean peninsula. Amen. 

Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung

Archbishop of Seoul

2015 Feast of Assumption of Mary  

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