Rev. Federico Lombardi, Vatican Spokesperson
You may have received notices on this information, but I will notice again. In this morning, the Pope had baptismal ceremony at Chapel in the Apostolic Nunciature in Korea.
As you know, a father who lost his son in Sewol ferry asked the Pope to baptize him. Actually, we were embarrassed because it was not originally scheduled; however, the Pope gave him a positive answer. Besides, a Bishop and a Father who knew him informed us that he had been preparing for his baptism for the past two years, and so we were able to prepare for the baptismal ceremony.
Yes, his name is Lee Ho-jin and he is over 50 years old (56). He is known to have three children and to have lost his the youngest child. So his other children who are his son and daughter attended this ceremony today. Lee Ho-jin is affiliated with Suwon Diocese and his Godfather is a male personnel who works at the Apostolic Nunciature in Korea.
Yes, we did not offer a Mass during the baptismal ceremony. The ceremony was held in Korean, (reading Korean prayer book) and it was conducted by the Secretary-Interpreter for the Holy Father (Rev. Fr. John Chong Che-cheon, S.J). The Pope did not say by himself and the ceremony was spoken in Korean by Father John Chong Che-cheon. We baptized him with Holy Water used for baptism and we also anointed him.
(*anointing: act of applying Holy Oil for preparer)
Mr. Lee Ho-jin was very pleased to be baptized with the name of “Francis” by the Pope. As you know, the Pope’s Christian name is “Francis.” The Pope was very pleased to have this baptismal ceremony today. In fact, this was unplanned before we visited Korea and was an unexpected event. We believe that we were able to have this ceremony because we were inspired by the Holy Spirit.
As far as I know, I have heard that tens of thousands of people get baptized every year in Korean Catholic Church. The Pope was pleased and happy to join in this important ceremony of the Korean Church.
Also, the Pope greeted 40 police officers individually who were supporting the motorcade this morning. The Pope expressed his gratitude to them and showed his respect to them, mentioning that not everyone can do such a job. Among them were three Catholics and one woman police officer. The Pope gave them rosary as a gift and blessed them.
Today he visited Haemi Holy Ground and met with the Asian Bishops. Not all the Bishops in Asia participated; the Bishops from the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) and its President Cardinal participated. Also, the Bishops who have a special interest in pastoral activities for Asian youths took part in this meeting, and so the total number reached around 80 to 90.
Since the meeting was not broadcasted, I will share some additional information here. The Pope and the Bishops prayed the Liturgy of Hours together. Cardinal Oswald Gracias, who serves as Archbishop of Mumbai and as the President of FABC delivered a welcome speech (to the Pope).
Cardinal Oswald Gracias gave a wonderful welcoming speech. He addressed the history of FABC and the challenges that the Asian Catholic Church currently face. He had prepared a spectacular speech, but due to time constraints, he delivered his speech in summary of his original draft. One thing that was surprising was that the FABC had been established on the occasion of Pope Paul VI’s visit to the Philippine in 1970s, which was the first Papal visit to Asia.
Cardinal Gracias mentioned that there are 19 member countries and 9 associate countries currently participating in the FABC.
Thus, today, His Eminence also mentioned the 4 challenged that the Asian Church. He pointed out that the Asians are (by nature) religious, but secularism and materialism is penetrating into the societies. Secondly, the family ties, which used to be regarded as very important in Asian society, are slowly weakening. Also, while Asian regard life as sacred, there are increasing elements that threat the value of life in various ways. While Asians pursue and enjoy community, this also is now being affected by strong sense of individualism.
The content of His Holiness’ speech that was handed out when the Pope met with the Asian Bishops is useful, and you can use it as it is. Through this opportunity, I will let you know the points His Holiness specifically emphasized or added during his speech. He delivered his speech in Italian.
At the beginning of his speech, His Holiness said “This place (Haemi Martyrdom Holy Ground) is the holy shrine of martyrs. This is a land of unknown martyrs. We have to remember those martyrs who died for their faith without their names. There are numerous martyrs, men and women of all ages worldwide, who lost their lives and who were martyred. Although their names are not known, we should respect them and emulate them.”
I will not mention each and every sentence that His Holiness delivered in his speech. However, since you are reporters, I will let you know the subjects that you may be especially interested in.
That is this. At the later part of his speech, His Holiness said, “In this spirit of openness to others, I earnestly hope that those countries of your continent, with whom the Holy See have not yet established a full relationship, would not hesitate to further engage in a dialogue for the benefit of all.”
In regards to this part, I believe that His Holiness confirmed his willingness to communicate, make a dialogue with good will, and make a relationship with the countries that Vatican have not established a full diplomatic relations.
So, many of you might think of China. However, the words, “Let’s have a talk,” not only apply to China but also to other Asian countries that do not have a formal relationship with the Vatican. This is intended for North Korea, Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos, and Brunei. For sure, China is the biggest among them in terms of size.
Yes, so, the Pope visits Korea, holds Mass of Beatification of 124 Korean Martyrs, looks back upon the history and tradition of Korean Catholic Church. However, today seems to be the day of Asia. Pope met with the Asian Bishops in the morning and meets the Asian youth in the afternoon. So, this visit of the Pope to Korea is a step towards not only Korea but also Asia.
Pope emphasized open dialogue between people with various religious and cultural backgrounds. Before we start celebrating Mass, His Holiness will meet with the leadership group of various religions, however short the meeting would be. We will give a separate briefing about this meeting before the Mass in the morning of the 18th at Myeongdong Cathedral. (It is assumed that the briefing will be given at night on the 17th)
I would like to once again confirm the list with whom the Pope will meet tomorrow. They are 2 Buddhist leaders, Dr. Seo Jung-ki, President of Seonggyungwan Association of Confucianism in Korea, Mr. Park Nam-soo, Supreme Leader of Chondogyo, and Mr. Han Yang-won, President of the Association for Native Korean Religions. And His Holiness will meet head pastors of Protestantism, Anglican Church of England, the Greek Orthodox Church, Lutheranism, and the leader of the Salvation Army Korea. Before the Pope’s celebration of Mass, His Holiness will have time to meet with these various clerics.
Fr. Lee Jung Joo, the Deputy Spokesperson of Committee for Papal Visit to Korea
For I worry that there may not be any further briefings before tomorrow’s Mass, I would like to repeat the list of attendees here today.
Archbishop Kim Hee Joong; Most Vrn. Jaseung, President of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism; Ven. Namgung Seong, Director General of Won-Buddhism; Mr. Seo Jung-ki, President of Sung Kyun Kwan Association of Confucianism in Korea; Mr. Park Nam-soo, Supreme Leader of Chongdogyo; Mr. Han Yang-won, President of the Association for Native Korean Religions; Reb. Kim Young-Ju, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK); Most Rev. Paul Kim Geun-sang, Primate of the Anglican Church of Korea will attend.
Fr. Lombardi will distribute the list of attendees to the media. If you are in need of the list you can visit our website, www.popekorea2014.or.kr, to see the updated list of attendees.
What did the Pope say to Mr. Lee Ho Jin at the morning Mass? Please tell us in detail.
>Fr. Federico Lombardi
There was no homily or speech in morning Mass. There was only a simple form of baptism and Pope spoke kind words to Mr. Lee when he departed. In fact, it is hard to say. Pope did not speak aloud and because of the translation from Spanish to Korean I cannot tell you in details.
Are there any messages which are going to be sent to North Korea tomorrow? Referring to what Asian Bishops have mentioned before, what is being done for the missionary work in China, North Korea and Laos? And what is going to be done? What is Vatican requesting Asian Bishops of relating to this topic?
>Fr. Federico Lombardi
Only after the Pope has spoken tomorrow will we be able to know about that. I cannot tell you what Pope is going to say. And about the Mass, Pope generally gives spiritual and moral messages, about spiritual conversations, and such as those. Especially, since tomorrow’s Mass is going to be about reconciliation and peace I do not think that there will be any political comments.
Consequently I think two people are required to have a conversation and I can say we’re ready for it. However, it’s not belonging to us to decide whether the other party of communication is ready for it or not. That’s why we suggest open communication always. We are highly interested in every country’s church and how faithful laity is doing in there, and we want to empathize that our door to communication is always opened. If the other party of the conversation is ready for communication with us in open heart, the Pope is always ready for it and will join the communication with full of joy.
And regarding the question for Bishops’ role in Asia, We’ve worked on pastoral activities in many Asian countries. We have supported for diverse charity and training activities in there, and also in countries which we don’t have a diplomatic relations yet, as a Christian, we’re working and positively expressing love and charity within a big community as nation. We’re not isolating ourselves within the society only for our benefit, but working within the community through diverse activities in daily life for the community’s common benefit.
In historical point of view, there were some hard cases to make relationship between a country and Vatican through a nation, officers, and other kind of relations. In such circumstances Catholic Church were considered as one of external power and external mankind for them, and perceived as we can’t be part of nation or community to be with. That’s why we’re always empathizing on that a great Catholic believer and Christian is the one who can be a great citizen as well. Therefore, we emphasize the participation in community projects for the benefit of all. We are accentuating that it is not of our purpose to try and come as an outsider to strengthen our influence. And that is why we refer ourselves as another pivot, besides those of the civic society or political areas, which works for the community.
Chinese students who were invited (to AYD) were said to have been prevented by (Chinese) government (from their departure) and had problems with the issuing of Visas. What’s the situation? Have you been informed about Chinese priests being pressurized by the government not to have any direct contact with the Pope?
>Fr. Federico Lombardi
Since we do not have normal diplomatic relationships with China at current state Chinese Catholic religious can have difficulty participating or attending events (held by Catholic Church); however, we believe that we have to solve the matter step by step and that we should continue to put our effort to establish better relations There are no other information that I can provide you with on last two questions. The only think that I can say here is that conversation is of huge importance and that in-depth understanding of both sides through conversation is needed. And what we always hope is that the freedom to religion should be always granted.