Address of the President of the CBCK to the Nation
At the End of the Apostolic Visit of Pope Francis to Korea
Dear brothers and sisters,
We have been greatly touched by the words and deeds of Pope Francis and driven into excitement and joy for the past several days.
The Holy Father called out all the Asian youths gathered together in Korea to wake up being vigilant. He told them out loud that they should never give up, but rise up, even though the present situation forces them to toil and moil, deriving them into desperation and dead end. He also urged us to humbly reflect on ourselves and find our way into a search for much higher values, never making an idol of economic development of Korea to be content with the transient comfort resulted from the material wealth. He asked us to have compassion expressing our solidarity with the poor, migrants, and the marginalized. He proclaimed the 124 Korean martyrs as the Blessed victors, inviting us to ask ourselves to what we can dedicate our life.
Leading us into enlightenment, he has shown us in person to what he has been dedicating himself. In spite of his advanced age, he has walked around the whole nation all day long, from early morning until late evening, to give himself to those who desperately needed him. He has held the hands of those who wanted to see him, and he has approached those who were suffering and mourning and held them in his arms silently. He carefully listened to the complaints of those people who needed someone to listen to their story. He pressed his cheek against that of the handicapped children who were abandoned by their parents as well as by the world, sharing his love and compassion with them.
He taught us that the solidarity with the poor is not meant to be a simple material aid. He said that we must, first of all, welcome them as our brothers and sisters created in the image and likeness of God, and help them stand on their own feet to live a decent life, being respected as the dignified human person just like us all. Pope Francis has been literally running around for 5 days to manifest his own view on human person as well as on the world.
Even though Pope Francis stayed in Korea only a few days, he inspired us fully with the consolation, compassion, and hope that many of us earnestly needed. He made it sure that peace does not mean the absence of war, but the result of justice, expressing his sincere desire for the peace of the Korean Peninsula as well as the peace of the Northeast Asia. In Korea, increasingly many people agonize over the lack of justice, even though the economic indicators show that Korea is one of the most developed countries in the history.
In this sense, I think that the peace of the Korean Peninsula should begin with sharing in the fraternal vision, in which we see each other as the noble beings created in the image and likeness of God. When justice surges like a stream in ourselves, it will overflows in every direction like a river, and, at last, it will flow into the open sea of peace. I hope that our society can go forwards to a society of compassion and respect, overcoming the hostility and conflict between social classes, following the example of Pope Francis.
I am very sorry to have brought about inconvenience to our fellow citizens, including traffic controls and congestions during the apostolic visit of the Holy Father in Korea. I sincerely thank you for your cooperation and patience despite the discomfort. I also would like to express my sincere thanks to President Park Geun-hye and related government ministries for their moral and material support. In particular, I would like to express my special thanks to volunteers, and all the people who have served silently with joy. I pray that God’s blessing may be with them. The Holy Father has left for Rome, cherishing in his heart the warm welcome of all Koreans in one accord, both Catholics and non-Catholics. I am sure that he will never forget the affectionate sentiment of Koreans for him.
Dear brothers and sisters,
Engraving his words, “Wake up in splendor!”, in our heart, let us go forth shedding lights in the darkness, and let us restore justice in our country. Asking the intercession of all the martyrs including 103 saints and the 124 blessed, I impart blessing to you all in the name of our Lord.
August 18, 2014
+ Peter Kang U-il
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea
Chairman of the Committee for the Papal Visit to Korea