Full text of Pope Francis’ Press Conference on return flight from Korea

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Below you will find the complete transcript of Pope Francis’ hour-long Press Conference with journalists aboard the return flight from Korea to Rome earlier today. This text is published here with the permission and encouragement of Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ, Director of the Holy See Press Conference.  The text was meticulously prepared by senior Vatican journalist, Gerard O’Connell, whose attention to detail and customary accuracy are found in this transcript.  The full text has been published earlier this afternoon on the website of the Jesuit America Magazine in the United States:

Mr. O’Connell, a close friend of Salt + Light Television, is an eminent journalist who was recently named the Vatican correspondent for America Magazine, a prestigious Catholic publication in the English speaking world. We express our sincere gratitude to Gerard O’Connell for his excellent work.
By Gerard O‚Connell

Pope Francis said “the unjust aggressor” against the minorities in Iraq “must be stopped” but, he added, no one state can decide to intervene by itself.  The crime of aggression has to be taken to the UN to decide which are the best means to stop the aggressor. He made clear “I do not say bomb.”

He revealed that he had contemplated going to Kurdistan at the time he sent Cardinal Filoni, and said he does not yet exclude that possibility if it is necessary.

He made clear his ardent desire to go to China, even “tomorrow,” and said he wishes to establish good relations with that noble people.

He rejected the suggestion that the Prayer for Peace in the Holy Land on June 8 was a failure, and emphasized that “it has opened a door” that still remains open.

He made these and other significant statements in an hour long interview on the flight back from Korea when he responded to a variety of questions from the international media.

America provides below the full transcript of the pope’s press conference. The translation was made by Gerard O’Connell, its Vatican correspondent, who travelled on the plane with the pope. This is not an official translation.

Q. During the visit to Korea, you reached out to the families of the Sewol ferry disaster and consoled them. Two questions: What did you feel when you met them? And were you not concerned that your action could be misinterpreted politically?

A. When you find yourself in front of human suffering, you have to do what your heart brings you to do. Then later they might say, he did this because he had a political intention, or something else. They can say everything. But when you think of these men, these women, fathers and mothers who have lost their children, brothers and sisters who have lost brothers and sisters, and the very great pain of such a catastrophe…my heart. I am a priest, I feel that I have to come close to them, I feel that way. That’s first. I know that the consolation that I can give, my words, are not a remedy. I cannot give new life to those that are dead. But human closeness in these moments gives us strength, solidarity.

I remember when I was archbishop of Buenos Aires, I experienced two catastrophes of this kind. One was a fire in a dance hall, a pop-music concert, and 194 people died in it. That was in 1993. And then there was another catastrophe with trains, and I think 120 died in that. At those times I felt the same thing, to draw close to them. Human pain is strong and if we draw close in those sad moments we help a lot.

And I want to say something more. I took this ribbon (from relatives of the Sewold ferry disaster, which I am wearing) out of solidarity with them, and after half a day someone came close to me and said, “It is better remove it, you should be neutral.” But listen, one cannot be neutral about human pain. I responded in that way. That’s how I felt.

Q. You know that recently the U.S. forces have started bombing the terrorists in Iraq, to prevent a genocide, to protect minorities, including Catholics who are under your guidance. My question is this: do you approve the American bombing?

A. Thanks for such a clear question. In these cases where there is an unjust aggression, I can only say this: it is licit to stop the unjust aggressor. I underline the verb: stop. I do not say bomb, make war, I say stop by some means. With what means can they be stopped? These have to be evaluated. To stop the unjust aggressor is licit.

But we must also have memory. How many times under this excuse of stopping an unjust aggressor the powers [that intervened] have taken control of peoples, and have made a true war of conquest.

One nation alone cannot judge how to stop an unjust aggressor. After the Second World War there was the idea of the United Nations. It is there that this should be discussed. Is there an unjust aggressor? It would seem there is. How do we stop him? Only that, nothing more.

Secondly, you mentioned the minorities. Thanks for that word because they talk to me about the Christians, the poor Christians. It’s true, they suffer. The martyrs, there are many martyrs. But here there are men and women, religious minorities, not all of them Christian, and they are all equal before God.

To stop the unjust aggressor is a right that humanity has, but it is also a right that the aggressor has to be stopped so that he does not do evil.

Q.  To return to Iraq. Like Cardinal Filoni and the head of the Dominicans, would you be ready to support a military intervention in Iraq to stop the Jihadists? And I have another question: do you think of going one day to Iraq, perhaps to Kurdistan to sustain the Christian refugees who wait for you, and to pray with them in this land where they have lived for 2,000 years?

A.  Not long ago I was with the Governor of Kurdistan, Minister Nechirvan Barzani. He had very clear ideas about the situation and how to find solutions, but that was before this unjust aggression.

I have responded to the first question. I am only in the agreement in the fact that when there is an unjust aggressor he is to be stopped.

Yes, I am willing [to go there]. But I think I can say this, when we heard with my collaborators about the killings of the religious minorities, the problem at that moment in Kurdistan was that they could not receive so many people. It’s a problem that one can understand. What can be done? We thought about many things. First  of all a communique was issued by Fr. Lombardi in my name.  Afterwards that communique was sent to all the nunciatures so that it be communicated to governments. Then we wrote a letter to the Secretary General of the United Nations. Many things …. And at the end we decided to send our personal envoy—Cardinal Filoni,  and I said if it were necessary when we return from Korea we can go there. It was one of the possibilities. This is my answer. I am willing [to go there]. At the moment it is not the best thing to do, but I am ready for this.

Q. My question is about China. China allowed you to fly over its airspace. The telegram that you sent [en route to Korea] was received without negative comments.  Do you think these are step forward towards a possible dialogue? And have you a desire to go to China?

Father Lombardi intervenes: I can inform you that we are now flying in the airspace over China at this moment. So the question is pertinent.

A. When we were about to enter into the Chinese airspace [en route to Korea], I was in the cockpit with the pilots, and one of them showed me a register and said, “We’re only ten minutes away from entering the Chinese airspace, we must ask authorization.” One always asks for this. It’s a normal thing, one asks for it from each country. And I heard how they asked for the authorization, how they responded. I was a witness to this. The pilot then said, “We sent a telegram,” but I don’t know how they did it.

Then I left them and I returned to my place and I prayed a lot for that beautiful and noble Chinese people, a wise people. I think of the great wise men of China, I think of the history of science and wisdom. And we Jesuits have a history there with Father Ricci. All these things came into my mind.

If I want to go to China? For sure! Tomorrow!

We respect the Chinese people. The church only asks for liberty for its task, for its work. There’s no other condition.

Then we should not forget that fundamental letter for the Chinese problems which was the one sent to the Chinese by Pope Benedict XVI. This letter is actual [relevant] today. It is actual. It’s good to re-read it.

The Holy See is always open to contacts. Always. Because it has a true esteem for the Chinese people.

Q. Your next journey will be to Albania and perhaps Iraq. After the Philippines and Sri Lanka, where will you go in 2015? And can I say that in Avila, there is great hope (that you will come),  can they still hope?

A. Yes! The president of Korea said to me—in perfect Spanish!—hope is the last thing one loses. She said that to me referring to the unification of Korea. One can always hope, but is not decided. Let me explain.

This year Albania is envisaged. Some have begun to say that the pope is starting everything from the periphery. But I am going to Albania for two important motives. First, because they have been able to form a government—just think of the Balkans, they have been able to form a government of national unity with Muslims, Orthodox and Catholics, with an interreligious council that helps a lot and is balanced. This is good, and harmonious. The presence of the pope wishes to say to all the peoples [of the world] that it’s possible to work together. I felt it as a real help to that noble people.

And there’s another thing, if we think about the history of Albania, in terms of religion is was the only country in the communist world to have in its constitution practical atheism. So if you went to mass it was against the constitution. And then, one of the ministers told me that 1820 churches were destroyed, both Orthodox and Catholic, at that time. Then other churches were transformed into theatres, cinemas, dancehalls. So I just felt that I had to go. It’s close, just one day.

Next year I would like to go to Philadelphia, for the meeting of the families. Then, I have been invited by the President of the United States to the American Congress. And also the Secretary General of the United Nations has also invited me to the Secretariat of the UN in New York. So maybe the three cities together.

Then there’s Mexico. The Mexicans want me to go to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, so we could take advantage of that too (during the U.S. visit), but it’s not certain.

And lastly Spain. The Spanish Royals have invited me. The bishops have invited me, but there is a shower of invitations to go to Spain, and maybe it is possible, but there is nothing sure, so I’ll just say that maybe to go to Avila in the morning and return in the afternoon if it were possible, but nothing is decided. So one can still hope.

Q. What kind of relationship is there between you and Benedict XVI? Do you have a regular exchange of opinions? Is there a common project after the encyclical (“Light of Faith”)?

A. We see each other. Before I departed [for Korea] I went to visit him. Two weeks earlier he sent me an interesting written text and he asked my opinion on it. We have a normal relationship.

I return to this idea, which may not be liked by some theologian. I am not a theologian, but I think that the emeritus-pope is not an exception. But after many centuries he is the first emeritus. Let us think about what he said, I have got old, I do not have the strength. It was a beautiful gesture of nobility, of humility and courage.

But if one thinks that 70 years ago emeritus bishops also were an exception. They did not exist, but today emeritus bishops are an institution.

I think that the emeritus pope is already an institution because our life gets longer and at a certain age there isn’t the capacity to govern well because the body gets tired, and maybe one’s health is good but there isn’t the capacity to carry forward all the problems of  a government like that of the church. I think that Pope Benedict made this gesture of emeritus popes. May, as I said before, some theologian may say this is not right, but I think this way. The centuries will tell us if this so or not. Let’s see.

But you could say to me, if you at some time felt you could not go forward, I would do the same! I would do the same. I would pray, but I would do the same. He [Benedict] opened a door that is institutional, not exceptional.

Our relationship is truly that of brothers. But I also said that I felt as if I have a grandfather at home because of his wisdom. He is a man of wisdom, of nuance that is good for me to hear him. And he encourages me sufficiently too. That’s the relationship I have with him.

Q. You have met the people who suffered. What did you feel when you greeted the comfort women at Mass this morning? And as regards the suffering of people in Korea there were also Christians hidden in Japan, and next year will the 150th anniversary of their “era of Nero” [in which Christians were persecuted]. Would it be possible to pray for them together with you at Nagasaki?

A. It would be most beautiful. I have been invited both by the government and by the bishops. I have been invited.

As for the suffering, you return to one of the first questions. The Korean people are a people who did not lose their dignity. It was a people that was invaded, humiliated. It suffered wars and now it is divided. Yesterday, when I went to the meeting with young people [at Haemi], I visited the museum of the martyrs there. It was terrible the sufferings of these people, just for not standing on a cross. It’s a historical suffering. This people has the capacity to suffer, and it is part of their dignity.

Also today, when those elderly women were in front of me at Mass, I thought that in that invasion there were young girls taken away to the barracks for to use them but they did not lose their dignity then. They were there today showing their faces, elderly, the last ones remaining. It’s a people strong in its dignity.

But returning to the question about the martyrs, the suffering and also these women, these are the fruits of war! Today we are in a world at war, everywhere. Someone said to me, “Father do you know that we are in the Third World War, but bit by bit.” He understood! It’s a world at war in which these cruelties are done.

I’d like to focus on two words. First, cruelty. Today children do not count. Once they spoke about a conventional war, today that does not count. I’m not saying that conventional wars were good things, but today a bomb is sent and it kills the innocent, the guilty, children, women they kill everybody. No! We must stop and think a little about the level of cruelty at which we have arrived. This should frighten us, and this is not to create fear. An empirical study could be done on the level of cruelty of humanity at this moment should frighten us a little.

The other word on which I would like to say something is torture. Today torture is one of the means, I would say, almost ordinary in the behavior of the forces of intelligence, in judicial processes and so on. Torture is a sin against humanity, is a crime against humanity. And I tell Catholics that to torture a person is a mortal sin, it’s a grave sin. But it’s more, it’s a sin against humanity.

Cruelty and torture! I would like very much if you, in your media, make a reflection: How do you see these things today? How do you see the cruelty of humanity, and what do you think of torture. I think it would do us all good to reflect on this.

Q.  You have a very demanding rhythm, full of commitments and take little rest, and no holidays, and you do these trips that are exhausting. And in these last months we see that you have also had to cancel some of these engagements, even at the last moment  Is there something to be concerned about in the life you lead?

A.  Yes, some people told me this. I have just taken holidays, at home, as I usually do.

Once I read a book. It was quite interesting, it’s title was: Rejoice that you are neurotic. I too have some neuroses. But one should treat the neuroses well. Give them some mate [herbal drink] every day. One of the neurosis is that I am too attached to life.

The last time I took a holiday outside Buenos Aires was with the Jesuit community in 1975. But I always take holidays. It’s true. I change rhythm. I sleep more. I read the things I like. I listen to music. That way I rest. In July and part of August I did that.

The other question. Yes, it is true, I had to cancel [engagements]. The day I should have gone to the Gemelli [hospital], up to 10 minutes before I was there, but I could not do it. It is true, they were seven very demanding days then, full of engagements. Now I have to be a little more prudent.

Q.  In Rio when the crowds chanted Francesco, Francesco, you told them to shout Christ, Christ. How do you cope with this immense popularity? How do you live it?

A.  I don’t know how to respond. I live it thanking the Lord that his people are happy. Truly, I do this. And I wish the People of God the best. I live it as generosity on the part of the people. Interiorly,  I try to think of my sins, my mistakes, so as not to think that I am somebody. Because I know this will last a short time, two or three years, and then to the house of the Father. And then it’s not wise to believe in this. I live it as the presence of the Lord in his people who use the bishop, the pastor of the people, to show many things. I live it a little more naturally than before, at the beginning I was a little frightened. But I do these thing, it comes into my mind that I must not make a mistake so as not to do wrong to the people in these things. A little that way.

Q. The pope has come from the end of the world and lives in the Vatican. Beyond Santa Marta about which you have talked to us, about your life and your choices. How does the Pope live in the Vatican? They’re always asking us: “What does he do?  How does he move about? Does he go for a walk? They have seen that you went to the canteen and surprise us.  What kind of life do you lead in Santa Marta, besides work?

A. I try to be free. There are work and office appointments, but then life for me, the most normal life I can do. Really, I’d like to go out but it’s not possible, it’s not possible, because if you go out people will come to you. That’s the reality. Inside Santa Marta I lead the normal life of work, of rest, chatting and so on.

Q. Don’t you feel like a prisoner?

A. At the beginning yes, but now some walls have fallen. For example, before it was said but the pope can’t do this or this. I’ll give you an example to make you laugh. When I would go into the lift, someone would come in there suddenly because the pope cannot go in the lift alone. So I said, you go to your place and I’ll go in the lift by myself. It’s normality.

Q. I’m sorry, Father, but I have to ask you this question as a member of the Spanish language group of which Argentina is a part. Your team, San Lorenzo, won the championship of America for the first time this week. I want to know how you are living this, how you are celebrating. I hear that a delegation are bringing the cup to the public audience on Wednesday, and that you will receive them in the public audience.

A. It’s good news after getting second place in Brazil. I learned about it here. They told me in Seoul. And they told me, they’re coming on Wednesday. It’s a public audience and they will be there. For me San Lorenzo is the team, all my family were supporters of it. My Dad played basketball at San Lorenzo; he was a player in the basketball team. And as children we went with him, and Mama also came with us to the Gazometer. Today the team of ’46 was a great team and won the championship. I live it with joy. Not a miracle, no!

Q. There’s been talk for a long time about an encyclical on ecology. Could you tell us when it will be published, and what are the key points?

A. I have talked a lot about this encyclical with Cardinal Turkson, and also with other people. And I asked Cardinal Turkson to gather all the input that have arrived, and four days before the trip, Cardinal Turkson brought me the first draft. It’s as thick as this. I’d say it’s about a third longer than “Evangelii Gaudium.” It’s the first draft.  It’s not an easy question because on the custody of creation, and ecology, also human ecology, one can talk with a certain security up to a certain point, but then the scientific hypotheses come, some sufficiently secure, others not. And in an encyclical like this, which has to be magisterial, one can only go forward on the things that are sure, the things that are secure. If the pope says the center of the universe is the earth and not the sun, he’s wrong because he says a thing that is scientifically not right. That’s what happens now. So we have to do the study now, number by number, and I believe it will become smaller. But going to the essentials, to that which one can affirm with security. One can say, in footnotes, that on this there is this and that hypothesis, to say it as information but not in the body of an encyclical that is doctrinal. It has to be secure.

Q. Thank you so much for your visit to South Korea. I’m going to ask you two questions. The first one is this: just before the final Mass at the cathedral you consoled some comfort women there, what thought occurred to you? And my second question, Pyongyang sees Christianity as a direct threat to its regime and its leadership and we know that some terrible thing happened to North Korean Christianity but we don’t know exactly what happened. Is there any special approach in your mind to change North Korea’s approach to North Korea’s Christianity?

A . On the first question I repeat this. Today, the women were there and despite all they suffered they have dignity, they showed their face. I think, as I said a short time ago, of the suffering of the war, of the cruelty of the one who wages war. These women were exploited, the were enslaved, all this is cruelty. I thought of all this, and of the dignity that they have and also how much they suffered. And suffering is an inheritance. The early fathers of the church said the blood of the martyrs if the seed of Christians. You Koreans have sown much, much, and out of coherence one now sees the fruit of that seed of the martyrs.

About North Korea, I know it is a suffering, and one I know for sure, there are many relatives that cannot come together, that’s a suffering, but it a suffering of that division of the country.   Today in the cathedral when I put on the vestments for mass there was a gift that they gave me, it was a crown of the thorns of Christ made from the iron wire that divides the two parts of the one Korea. We are now taking it with us on the plane, it’s a gift that I take, the suffering of division, of a divided family, but as I said yesterday, I can’t remember exactly, but talking to the bishops, I said we have  a hope: the two Koreas are brothers, and they speak the same language. They speak the same language because they have the same mother, and that gives us hope. The suffering of the division is great, I understand that and I pray that it ends.

Q. As an Italo-American I want to compliment you for your English, you should have no fear, and if you wish to do some practice before you go to America, my second homeland, I am willing to help. My question is this: You have spoken about martyrdom. At what stage is the process for the cause of Archbishop Romero. And what would you like to come out of this process?

A. The process was blocked in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith “for prudence,” it was said. Now it is unblocked and it is in the Congregation for Saints and follows the normal path of a process. It depends on how the postulators move, it’s very important to move in haste.

What I would like is to have clarified when there is martyrdom in “odium fidei” [out of hate for the faith], whether it is for confessing the credo or for performing the works that Jesus commands us to do  for our neighbor. This is a work of theologians that is being studied. Because behind him [Romero], there is Rutillio Grande and there are others. There are other that were also killed but are not at the same height as Romero. This has to be distinguished theologically. For me, Romero is a man of God. He was a man of God but there has to be the process, and the Lord will have to give his sign [of approval]. But if He wishes, He will do so! The postulators must move now because there are no impediments.

Q. Given what has happened in Gaza, was the Prayer for Peace held in the Vatican on June 8 a failure?

A. That prayer for peace was absolutely not a failure. First of all, the initiative did not come from me. The initiative to pray together came from two presidents: the president of the State of Israel and the president of the State of Palestine. They make known to me this unease, then we wanted to hold it there [in the Holy Land],  but we couldn’t find the right place because the political cost for each one was very high if they went to the other side. The nunciature was a neutral place, but to arrive at the nunciature the President of Palestine would have had to enter in Israel, so the thing was not easy. Then they said to me, let us do it in the Vatican, we will come. These two men are men of peace, they are men who believe in God, and they have lived through many ugly things, they are convinced that they only way to resolve the situation there is through dialogue, negotiation and peace.

You ask me, was it a failure? No, the door remains open. All four, the two presidents and Bartholomew I, I wanted him here as the ecumenical patriarch of Orthodoxy, it was good that he was with us, the door of prayer was opened. And it was said we must pray, peace is a gift of God,. It is a gift but we merit it with our work. And to say to humanity that the path of dialogue is important, negotiation is important, but there is also that of prayer. Then after that, we saw what happened. But it was just a matter of coincidence. That encounter for prayer was not conjuncture. It is a fundamental step of the human attitude, now the smoke of the bombs and the war do not let one see the door, but the door was left open from that moment. And as I believe in God, I look at that door and the many who pray and who ask that He helps us. I liked that question. Thank you!

 

– Photo Credit: Pope Francis listens to a journalist’s question aboard the papal flight from Seoul, South Korea, to Rome Aug. 18. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) 

Address by His Eminence Cardinal Andrea Yeum Soo-jung: Mass for Peace and Reconciliation


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Address by His Eminence Cardinal Andrea Yeum Soo-jung
Mass for Peace and Reconciliation
Myeong-dong Cathedral in Seoul
August 18, 2014

Holy Father, I wanted to thank you very much for visiting our country split in two, north and south and for praying for his peace by celebrating the Eucharist. Today is the last day of his visit to Korea. Soon after he finished this Mass will return to his home.

I am very happy to have you accompanied in these five days. Since his arrival he held a number of meetings and celebrations of the Eucharist. In each time showed the best aspect of the Church. For young Asians, in particular, has shown a Good Shepherd who accompanies them and walking beside them.

In Seoul beatified martyrs of our primitive, Paul Yun Ji-Chung and his companions a hundred and twenty. With this, the Korean Church has blessed addition to the one hundred and three hundred twenty-four new saints. I feel so out of me a most serious responsibility for evangelization.

Holy Father, I ask you to pray for us, that we are committed to achieve full peace in our country and the world.  How You love us and our country, we love it. Thank you again and go in peace! Thank you!

Homily of His Holiness Pope Francis: Mass For Peace And Reconciliation

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Homily of His Holiness Pope Francis
Mass For Peace And Reconciliation
Seoul, Myeong-dong Cathedral
18 August 2014

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As my stay in Korea draws to a close, I thank God for the many blessings he has bestowed upon this beloved country, and in a special way, upon the Church in Korea.  Among those blessings I especially treasure the experience we have all had in these recent days of the presence of so many young pilgrims from throughout Asia.  Their love of Jesus and their enthusiasm for the spread of his Kingdom have been an inspiration to us all.

My visit now culminates in this celebration of Mass, in which we implore from God the grace of peace and reconciliation.  This prayer has a particular resonance on the Korean peninsula.  Today’s Mass is first and foremost a prayer for reconciliation in this Korean family.  In the Gospel, Jesus tells us how powerful is our prayer when two or three of us join in asking for something (cf. Mt 18:19-20).  How much more when an entire people raises its heartfelt plea to heaven!

The first reading presents God’s promise to restore to unity and prosperity a people dispersed by disaster and division.  For us, as for the people of Israel, this is a promise full of hope: it points to a future which God is even now preparing for us.  Yet this promise is inseparably tied to a command: the command to return to God and wholeheartedly obey his law (cf. Dt 30:2-3).  God’s gifts of reconciliation, unity and peace are inseparably linked to the grace of conversion, a change of heart which can alter the course of our lives and our history, as individuals and as a people.

At this Mass, we naturally hear this promise in the context of the historical experience of the Korean people, an experience of division and conflict which has lasted for well over sixty years.  But God’s urgent summons to conversion also challenges Christ’s followers in Korea to examine the quality of their own contribution to the building of a truly just and humane society.  It challenges each of you to reflect on the extent to which you, as individuals and communities, show evangelical concern for the less fortunate, the marginalized, those without work and those who do not share in the prosperity of the many.  And it challenges you, as Christians and Koreans, firmly to reject a mindset shaped by suspicion, confrontation and competition, and instead to shape a culture formed by the teaching of the Gospel and the noblest traditional values of the Korean people.

In today’s Gospel, Peter asks the Lord: “If my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him?  As many as seven times?”  To which the Lord replies: “Not seven times, I tell you, but seventy times seven” (Mt 18:21-22).  These words go to the very heart of Jesus’ message of reconciliation and peace.  In obedience to his command, we ask our heavenly Father daily to forgive us our sins, “as we forgive those who sin against us”.  Unless we are prepared to do this, how can we honestly pray for peace and reconciliation?

Jesus asks us to believe that forgiveness is the door which leads to reconciliation.  In telling us to forgive our brothers unreservedly, he is asking us to do something utterly radical, but he also gives us the grace to do it.  What appears, from a human perspective, to be impossible, impractical and even at times repugnant, he makes possible and fruitful through the infinite power of his cross.  The cross of Christ reveals the power of God to bridge every division, to heal every wound, and to reestablish the original bonds of brotherly love.

This, then, is the message which I leave you as I conclude my visit to Korea.  Trust in the power of Christ’s cross!  Welcome its reconciling grace into your own hearts and share that grace with others!  I ask you to bear convincing witness to Christ’s message of forgiveness in your homes, in your communities and at every level of national life.  I am confident that, in a spirit of friendship and cooperation with other Christians, with the followers of other religions, and with all men and women of good will concerned for the future of Korean society, you will be a leaven of the Kingdom of God in this land.  Thus our prayers for peace and reconciliation will rise to God from ever more pure hearts and, by his gracious gift, obtain that precious good for which we all long.

Let us pray, then, for the emergence of new opportunities for dialogue, encounter and the resolution of differences, for continued generosity in providing humanitarian assistance to those in need, and for an ever greater recognition that all Koreans are brothers and sisters, members of one family, one people.

Before leaving Korea, I wish to thank the President of Republic, the civil and ecclesiastical authorities and all those who in any way helped to make this visit possible.  I especially wish to address a word of personal appreciation to the priests of Korea, who daily labor in the service of the Gospel and the building up of God’s people in faith, hope and love.  I ask you, as ambassadors of Christ and ministers of his reconciling love (cf. 2 Cor 5:18-20), to continue to build bridges of respect, trust and harmonious cooperation in your parishes, among yourselves, and with your bishops.  Your example of unreserved love for the Lord, your faithfulness and dedication to your ministry, and your charitable concern for those in need, contribute greatly to the work of reconciliation and peace in this country.

Dear brothers and sisters, God calls us to return to him and to hearken to his voice, and he promises to establish us on the land in even greater peace and prosperity than our ancestors knew.  May Christ’s followers in Korea prepare for the dawning of that new day, when this land of the morning calm will rejoice in God’s richest blessings of harmony and peace!  Amen.

Expression of thanks to Pope Francis closing Mass of Asian Youth Day


Expression of thanks to Pope Francis
Bishop Peter Kang U-il Messa
After Communion at concluding Mass of Asian Youth Day
Sunday August 17, 2014

I thank His Holiness Pope Francis with all your heart, on behalf of the bishops of Asia for coming to stay close to young Asians. At the World Youth Days, the Holy Father has always accompanied the young, but this is the first time that the Pope comes from so far away together with the Asian bishops to attend the World Youth Day Asia.

We can not move us and rejoice even if only for the fact that young people who have the same faith congregate, coming from different contexts and beyond the walls of different nationalities and languages, to confirm their brotherhood in Christ, and to rejoice and praise together God. But not only that. Since this time the Pope has shared with the youth for a long time, I believe that young Asians have experienced, as never before, unrepeatable moments of grace, and that they have received a seed of hope and courage for the future.

I take this opportunity to express my gratitude to His Eminence Cardinal Oswald Gracias, President of the FABC (Bishops’ Conference of Asia), and many bishops of Asia, came from afar to attend the meeting with the Holy Father and to confirm the solidarity of the Asian Church. My heartfelt thanks also go to all those who for the preparation of this day have worked tirelessly without saving, in particular, to Mons. Lazarus Heungshik Yu, Bishop of the Diocese of Daejeon and the other members of the Preparatory Commission. I hope that the good Lord reward you abundantly.

I hope that all young Asians who participated in this Day, starting from grace and from the experience of these days, they can go out in search of the sources of faith in the places of their daily lives, knocking on the doors of the closed hearts, always walking together Jesus and the martyrs, and I hope that young people will strengthen the desire and passion to proclaim the Gospel throughout the world.

I hope that the God of peace himself give you all his abundant blessing.

Closing Holy Mass homily of the 6th Asian Youth Day

Closing Holy Mass homily
6th Asian Youth Day
Haemi Castle
August 17, 2014

Dear Young Friends,

The glory of the martyrs shines upon you!   These words – a part of the theme of the Sixth Asian Youth Day – console and strengthen us all.  Young people of Asia: you are the heirs of a great testimony, a precious witness to Christ.  He is the light of the world; he is the light of our lives!  The martyrs of Korea – and innumerable others throughout Asia – handed over their bodies to their persecutors; to us they have handed on a perennial witness that the light of Christ’s truth dispels all darkness, and the love of Christ is gloriously triumphant.  With the certainty of his victory over death, and our participation in it, we can face the challenge of Christian discipleship today, in our own circumstances and time.

The words which we have just reflected upon are a consolation.  The other part of this Day’s theme – Asian Youth! Wake up! – speaks to you of a duty, a responsibility.  Let us consider for a moment each of these words.

First, the word “Asian”.  You have gathered here in Korea from all parts of Asia.  Each of you has a unique place and context where you are called to reflect God’s love.  The Asian continent, imbued with rich philosophical and religious traditions, remains a great frontier for your testimony to Christ, “the way, and the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6).  As young people not only in Asia, but also as sons and daughters of this great continent, you have a right and a duty to take full part in the life of your societies.  Do not be afraid to bring the wisdom of faith to every aspect of social life!

As Asians too, you see and love, from within, all that is beautiful, noble and true in your cultures and traditions.  Yet as Christians, you also know that the Gospel has the power to purify, elevate and perfect this heritage.  Through the presence of the Holy Spirit given you in Baptism and sealed within you at Confirmation, and in union with your pastors, you can appreciate the many positive values of the diverse Asian cultures.  You are also able to discern what is incompatible with your Catholic faith, what is contrary to the life of grace bestowed in Baptism, and what aspects of contemporary culture are sinful, corrupt, and lead to death.

Returning to the theme of this Day, let us reflect on a second word: “Youth”.  You and your friends are filled with the optimism, energy and good will which are so characteristic of this period of life.  Let Christ turn your natural optimism into Christian hope, your energy into moral virtue, your good will into genuine self-sacrificing love!  This is the path you are called to take.  This is the path to overcoming all that threatens hope, virtue and love in your lives and in your culture.  In this way your youth will be a gift to Jesus and to the world.

As young Christians, whether you are workers or students,whether you have already begun a career or have answered the call to marriage, religious life or the priesthood, you are not only a part of the future of the Church; you are also a necessary and beloved part of the Church’s present!  Keep close to one another, draw ever closer to God, and with your bishops and priests spend these years in building a holier, more missionary and humble Church – a Church which loves and worships God by seeking to servethe poor, the lonely, the infirm and the marginalized.

In your Christian lives, you will find many occasions that will tempt you, like the disciples in today’s Gospel, to push away the stranger, the needy, the poor and the broken-hearted.  It is these people especially who repeat the cry of the woman of the Gospel: “Lord, help me!”.  The Canaanite woman’s plea is the cry of everyone who searches for love, acceptance, and friendship with Christ.  It is the cry of so many people in our anonymous cities, the cry of so many of your own contemporaries, and the cry of all those martyrs who even today suffer persecution and death for the name of Jesus: “Lord, help me!”  It is often a cry which rises from our own hearts as well:  “Lord, help me!”  Let us respond, not like those who push away people who make demands on us, as if serving the needy gets in

Finally, the third part of this Day’s theme – “Wake up!” – speaks of a responsibility which the Lord gives you.  It is the duty to be vigilant, not to allow the pressures, the temptations and the sins of ourselves or others to dull our sensitivity to the beauty of holiness, to the joy of the Gospel.  Today’s responsorial psalm invites us constantly to “be glad and sing for joy”.  No one who sleeps can sing, dance or rejoice.  Dear young people, “God, our God, has blessed us!” (Ps 67:6); from him we have “received mercy” (Rom 11:30).  Assured of God’s love, go out to the world so that, “by the mercy shown to you”, they – your friends, co-workers, neighbors, countrymen, everyone on this great continent – “may now receive the mercy of God” (cf. Rom 11:31).  It is by his mercy that we are saved.

Dear young people of Asia, it is my hope that, in union with Christ and the Church, you will take up this path, which will surely bring you much joy.  Now, as we approach the table of the Eucharist, let us turn to our Mother Mary, who brought Jesus to the world.  Yes, Mother Mary, we long to have Jesus; in your maternal affection help us to bring him to others, to serve him faithfully, and to honor him in every time and place, in this country and throughout Asia.  Amen.

 

Baptism of Korean Layman at Nunciature by Pope Francis

 This morning (August 17) at 7:00 a.m. in the Chapel of the Apostolic Nunciature, Mr. Lee Ho Jin received the sacrament of baptism. He is the father of a young boy, one of many young persons who died in the Sewol ferry tragedy earlier this year.

Mr. Lee Ho Jim had asked the Pope for baptism earlier in Daejon during the Pope’s meeting with survivors and family members of this tragedy. The candidate for baptism was accompanied by a son and daughter and the priest who had presented him to the Pope in Daejon. A lay staff member of the Apostolic Nunciature served as godfather for Mr. Lee Ho Jim. The celebration was very simple and was celebrated in Korean by Jesuit Fr. John Chong Che-chon, who has been serving as Korean interpreter for the Pope during this journey in Korea. The Pope intervened personally in the rite of Baptism with the pouring of water and anointing with Sacred Chrism. The newly baptized man took the baptismal name of Francis.

The Pope was very happy to be able to take part in the great ministry of the celebration of Baptism of a layman in the Korean Church in this unplanned ceremony.

Pope Francis meets with Asian Bishops at Martyrs’ Shrine in Haemi

blog_1408244711Address of His Holiness Pope Francis
Meeting with the Asian Bishops
Haemi, Martyrs’ Shrine
17 August 2014

Dear Brother Bishops,

I offer you a warm and fraternal greeting in the Lord as we gather together at this holy site where so many Christians gave their lives in fidelity to Christ.  Their testimony of charity has brought blessings and graces not only to the Church in Korea but also beyond; may their prayers help us to be faithful shepherds of the souls entrusted to our care.  I thank Cardinal Gracias for his kind words of welcome and for the work of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences in fostering solidarity and promoting effective pastoral outreach in your local Churches.

On this vast continent which is home to a great variety of cultures, the Church is called to be versatile and creative in her witness to the Gospel through dialogue and openness to all.  Dialogue, in fact, is an essential part of the mission of the Church in Asia (cf. Ecclesia in Asia, 29).   But in undertaking the path of dialogue with individuals and cultures, what should be our point of departure and the fundamental point of reference which guides us to our destination?  Surely it is our own identity, our identity as Christians.  We cannot engage in real dialogue unless we are conscious of our own identity.  Nor can there be authentic dialogue unless we are capable of opening our minds and hearts, in empathy and sincere receptivity, to those with whom we speak.  A clear sense of one’s own identity and a capacity for empathy are thus the point of departure for all dialogue.  If we are to speak freely, openly and fruitfully with others, we must be clear about who we are, what God has done for us, and what it is that he asks of us.  And if our communication is not to be a monologue, there has to be openness of heart and mind to accepting individuals and cultures.

The task of appropriating and expressing our identity does not always prove easy, however, since – being sinners – we will always be tempted by the spirit of the world, which shows itself in a variety of ways.  I would like to point to three of these.  One is the deceptive light of relativism, which obscures the splendor of truth and, shaking the earth beneath our feet, pulls us toward the shifting sands of confusion and despair.  It is a temptation which nowadays also affects Christian communities, causing people to forget that in a world of rapid and disorienting change, “there is much that is unchanging, much that has its ultimate foundation in Christ, who is the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Gaudium et Spes, 10; cf. Heb 13:8).  Here I am not speaking about relativism merely as a system of thought, but about that everyday practical relativism which almost imperceptibly saps our sense of identity.

A second way inwhichthe worldthreatens the solidity of our Christian identity is superficiality, a tendency to toy with the latest fads, gadgets and distractions, rather than attending to the things that really matter (cf. Phil 1:10).  In a culture which glorifies the ephemeral, and offers so many avenues of avoidance and escape, this can present a serious pastoral problem.  For the ministers of the Church, it can also make itself felt in an enchantment with pastoralprograms and theories, to the detriment of direct, fruitful encounter with our faithful, especially the young who need solid catechesis and sound spiritual guidance.  Without a grounding in Christ, the truths by which we live our lives can gradually recede, the practice of the virtues can become formalistic, and dialogue can be reduced to a form of negotiation or an agreement to disagree.

Then too, there is a third temptation: that of the apparent security to be found in hiding behind easy answers, ready formulas, rules and regulations.  Faith by nature is not self-absorbed; it “goes out”.  It seeks understanding; it gives rise to testimony; it generates mission.  In this sense, faith enables us to be both fearless and unassuming in our witness of hope and love.  Saint Peter tells us that we should be ever ready to respond to all who ask the reason for the hope within us (cf. 1 Pet 3:15).  Our identity as Christians is ultimately seen in our quiet efforts to worship God alone,to love one another, to serve one another, andto show by our example not only what we believe, but also what we hope for, and the Onein whom we put our trust (cf. 2 Tim 1:12).

Once again, it is our living faith in Christ which is our deepest identity; it is from this that our dialogue begins, and this that we are asked to share, sincerely, honestly and without pretence, in the dialogue of everyday life, in the dialogue of charity, and in those more formal opportunities which may present themselves.  Because Christ is our life (cf. Phil 1:21), let usspeak “from him andof him” readily and without hesitation or fear.  The simplicity of his word becomesevident in the simplicity of our lives, in the simplicity of our communication, in the simplicity of our works of loving service to our brothers and sisters.

I would now touch on one further aspect of our Christian identity.  It is fruitful.  Because it is born of, and constantly nourished by, the grace of our dialogue with the Lord and the promptings of his Spirit, it bears a harvest of justice, goodness and peace.  Let me ask you, then, about the fruits which it is bearing in your own lives and in the lives of the communities entrusted to your care.  Does the Christian identity of your particular Churches shine forth in your programs of catechesis and youth ministry, in your service to the poor and those languishing on the margins of our prosperous societies, and in your efforts to nourish vocations to the priesthood and the religious life?

Finally, together with a clear sense of our own Christian identity, authentic dialogue also demands a capacity for empathy.  We are challenged to listen not only to the words which others speak, but to the unspoken communication of their experiences, their hopes and aspirations, their struggles and their deepest concerns.  Such empathy must be the fruit of our spiritual insight and personal experience, which lead us to see others as brothers and sisters, and to “hear”, in and beyond their words and actions, what their hearts wish to communicate.  In this sense, dialogue demands of us a truly contemplative spirit of openness and receptivity to the other.  This capacity for empathy enables a true human dialogue in which words, ideas and questions arise from an experience of fraternity and shared humanity.  It leads to a genuine encounter in which heart speaks to heart.  We are enriched by the wisdom of the other and become open to travelling together the path to greater understanding, friendship and solidarity.  As Saint John Paul II rightly recognized, our commitment to dialogue is grounded in the very logic of the incarnation: in Jesus, God himself became one of us, shared in our life and spoke to us in our own language (cf. Ecclesia in Asia, 29).  In this spirit of openness to others, I earnestly hope that those countries of your continent with whom the Holy See does not yet enjoy a full relationship, may not hesitate to further a dialogue for the benefit of all.

Dear brother bishops, I thank you for your warm and fraternal welcome.  When we look out at the great Asian continent, with its vast expanses of land, its ancient cultures and traditions, we are aware that, in God’s plan, your Christian communities are indeed a pusillus grex, a small flock which nonetheless is charged to bring the light of the Gospel to the ends of the earth.  May the Good Shepherd, who knows and loves each of his sheep, guide and strengthen your efforts to build up their unity with him and with all the members of his flock throughout the world.  I commend all of you to the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, and I cordially impart my blessing as a pledge of grace and peace in the Lord.

 

Greetings by Oswald Cardinal Gracias

Meeting with the Asian Bishops
Haemi, Martyrs’ Shrine
August 17, 2014

Greetings by Oswald Cardinal Gracias
Archbishop of Bombay & President, Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences

Most Holy Father,

At this moment, our minds and hearts go back to that historic occasion forty four years ago when the Bishops of Asia met together in Manila on the occasion of Pope Paul VI’s historic visit to the Philippines in 1970. It was the first time that so many Bishops from Asia – around 180 were present – came together to exchange experiences and to deliberate jointly on pastoral issues facing this vast continent rich in its diversity. Thrilled by this experience, the Founding Fathers established the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) with the blessings of Pope Paul VI. FABC today has 19 member conferences comprising 27 countries, and 9 associate members besides: Churches which do not yet have Episcopal Conferences.

Asia is a continent experiencing the hopes and joys of a constant rebirth in the Spirit. Sixty percent of the world’s population lives in Asia. It is a young continent with a majority of the population young. Hence in many ways Asia is a very central for the future of the world and for the future of the Church. Globalization has impacted Asia and this has brought new challenges to the Church: Asian people are religious by nature, yet a spirit of secularism and materialism is creeping in. Family ties once considered so important and so deeply rooted in Asian society are slowly being eroded.

Again, while the Asian soul treats life as sacred, there are rising threats to life that are disturbing in many ways. The Asian seeks and enjoys community. Now this too is being impacted upon with a strong sense of individualism.

We are in this beautiful land of St. Andrew Kim Taegon and his companions. During this week 124 more martyrs are being beatified. It is the blood of these holy martyrs that has been the seed for the growth of the Church here. The Asian Youth Day has shown how vibrant and enthusiastic the Korean youth are. Korea is a land where the laity has played a special role in Evangelization and this becomes a model for many of our Churches. We wish to be touched by the infectious passion of the Korean Church as we go back to our dioceses.

Most Holy Father we thank you for this visit to Korea, your first to Asia. You have brought the person of Jesus to us by your Message. You have inspired us by your example. We thank you for your leadership and we pray for the continuous assistance of the Spirit to you and God’s protection on your Petrine ministry. While we ask you to bless and pray for us, we commit ourselves to make the person of Jesus and His Message continuously more known, more understood, more loved and more followed. This we will do by our word, by our lives and by our work. Bless the Church in Asia, bless us the leaders of the Church. May Mary the Star of New Evangelization, our Mother and the Mother of Asia continue to guide, protect and intercede for us.

Thank you.

Pope Francis Meeting with Lay Apostolate

Address of His Holiness Pope Francis
Meeting with the Lay Apostolate,
Kkottongnae, Spirituality Center
16 August 2014

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am grateful to have this opportunity to meet you, who represent the many expressions of the flourishing apostolate of the laity in Korea.  I thank the President of the Catholic Lay Apostolate Council, Mr Paul Kwon Kil-joong, for his kind words of welcome in your name.

The Church in Korea, as we all know, is heir to the faith of generations of lay persons who persevered in the love of Christ Jesus and the communion of the Church despite the scarcity of priests and the threat of severe persecution.  Blessed Paul Yun Ji-chung and the martyrs beatified today represent an impressive chapter of this history.  They bore witness to the faith not only by their sufferings and death, but by their lives of loving solidarity with one another in Christian communities marked by exemplary charity.

This precious legacy lives on in your own works of faith, charity and service.  Today, as ever, the Church needs credible lay witnesses to the saving truth of the Gospel, its power to purify and transform human hearts, and its fruitfulness for building up the human family in unity, justice and peace.  We know there is but one mission of the Church of God, and that every baptized Christian has a vital part in this mission.  Your gifts as lay men and women are manifold and your apostolates varied, yet all that you do is meant to advance the Church’s mission by ensuring that the temporal order is permeated and perfected by Christ’s Spirit and ordered to the coming of his Kingdom.

In a particular way, I wish to acknowledge the work of the many societies and associations directly engaged in outreach to the poor and those in need.  As the example of the first Korean Christians shows, the fruitfulness of faith is expressed in concrete solidarity with our brothers and sisters, without any attention to their culture or social status, for in Christ “there is no Greek or Jew” (Gal 3:28).  I am deeply grateful to those of you whoby your work and witness bring the Lord’s consoling presence to people living on the peripheries of our society.  This activity should not be limited to charitable assistance, but must also extend to a practical concern for human growth.  To assist the poor is good and necessary, but it is not enough.  I encourage you to multiply your efforts in the area of human promotion, so that every man and every woman can know the joy which comes from the dignity of earning their daily bread and supporting their family.

I wish also to acknowledge the outstanding contribution made by Korean Catholic women to the life and mission of the Church in this country as mothers of families, as catechists and teachers, and in countless other ways.  Similarly, I can only stress the importance of the witness given by Christian families.  At a time of great crisis for family life, our Christian communities are called to support married couples and families in fulfillingtheir proper mission in the life of the Church and society.  The family remains the basic unit of society and the first school in which children learn the human,spiritual and moral values which enable them to be a beacon of goodness, integrity and justice in our communities.

Dear friends, whatever your particular contribution to the Church’s mission, I ask you to continue to promote in your communities a more complete formation of the lay faithful through ongoing catechesis and spiritual direction.  In all that you do, I ask you to work in complete harmony of mind and heart with your pastors, striving to place your own insights, talents and charisms at the service of the Church’s growth in unity and missionary outreach.  Your contribution is essential, for the future of the Church in Korea – as throughout Asia – will depend in large part on the development of an ecclesiological vision grounded in a spirituality of communion, participation and the sharing of gifts (cf. Ecclesia in Asia, 45).

Once again I express my gratitude for all that you do for the building up of the Church in Korea in holiness and zeal.  May you draw constant inspiration and strength for your apostolates from the Eucharistic sacrifice, wherein “that love of God and of humanity which is the soul of the apostolate is communicated and nourished” (Lumen Gentium, 33).  Upon you and your families, and all who take part in the corporal and spiritual works of your parishes, associations and movements, I invoke joy and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ and the loving protection of Mary, our Mother.

Pope Francis address to religious communities in Korea

Address of His Holiness Pope Francis
Meeting with Religious Communities in Korea
Kkottongnae, Training Center
16 August 2014

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I greet you all with affection in the Lord.  It is good to be with you today and to share these moments of communion.  The great variety of charisms and apostolates which you represent wondrously enriches the life of the Church in Korea and beyond.  In this setting of the celebration of Vespers where we have sung the praise of God’s infinite goodness and mercy, I thank you, and all of your brothers and sisters,  for your efforts to build up God’s Kingdom in this beloved country.  I thank Father Hwang Seok-mo and Sister Scholastica Lee Kwang-ok, the Presidents of the Korean Conferences of Major Superiors of Men’s and Women’s Religious Institutes and Societies of Apostolic Life, for their kind words of welcome.

The words of the Psalm, “My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Ps 73:26), invite us to think about our own lives.  The Psalmist exudes joyful confidence in God.  We all know that while joy is not expressed the same way at all times in life, especially at moments of great difficulty, “it always endures, even as a flicker of light born of our personal certainty that, when everything is said and done, we are infinitely loved” (Evangelii Gaudium, 6).  The firm conviction of being loved by God is at the center of your vocation: to be for others a tangible sign of the presence of God’s Kingdom, a foretaste of the eternal joys of heaven.  Only if our witness is joyful will we attract men and women to Christ.  And this joy is a gift which is nourished by a life of prayer, meditation on the word of God, the celebration of the sacraments and life in community.  When these are lacking, weaknesses and difficulties will emerge to dampen the joy we knew so well at the beginning of our journey.

For you, as men and women consecrated to God, this joy is rooted in the mystery of the Father’s mercy revealed in Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.  Whether the charism of your Institute is directed more to contemplation or to the active life, you are challenged to become “experts” in divine mercy precisely through your life in community.  From experience I know that community life is not always easy, but it is a providential training ground for the heart.  It is unrealistic not to expect conflicts; misunderstandings will arise and they must be faced.  Despite such difficulties, it is in community life that we are called to grow in mercy, forbearance and perfect charity.

The experience of God’s mercy, nourished by prayer and community, must shape all that you are, all that you do.  Your chastity, poverty and obedience will be a joyful witness to God’s love in the measure that you stand firmly on the rock of his mercy.  This is certainly the case with religious obedience.  Mature and generous obedience requires that you cling in prayer to Christ who, taking the form of a servant, learned obedience through what he suffered (cf. Perfectae Caritatis, 14).  There are no shortcuts: God desires our hearts completely and this means we have to “let go” and “go out” of ourselves more and more.

A lively experience of the Lord’s steadfast mercy also sustains the desire to achieve that perfection of charity which is born of purity of heart. Chastity expresses your single-minded dedication to the love of God who is “the strength of our hearts”.  We all know what a personal and demanding commitment this entails.  Temptations in this area call for humble trust in God, vigilance and perseverance.

Mosaic of NativityThrough the evangelical counsel of poverty you are able to recognize God’s mercy not only as a source of strength, but also as a treasure.  Even when we are weary, we can offer him our hearts burdened by sin and weakness; at those times when we feel most helpless, we can reach out to Christ, “who made himself poor in order that we might become rich” (cf. 2 Cor 8:9).  This fundamental need of ours to be forgiven and healed is itself a form of poverty which we must never lose sight of, no matter how many advances we make in virtue.  It should also find concrete expression in your lifestyle, both as individuals and as communities.  I think in particular of the need to avoid all those things which can distract you and cause bewilderment and scandal to others.  In the consecrated life, poverty is both a “wall” and a “mother”.  It is a “wall” because it protects the consecrated life, a “mother” because it helps it to grow and guides it along the right path.  The hypocrisy of those consecrated men and women who profess vows of poverty, yet live like the rich, wounds the souls of the faithful and harms the Church.  Think, too, of how dangerous a temptation it is to adopt a purely functional, worldly mentality which leads to placing our hope in human means alone and destroys the witness of poverty which our Lord Jesus Christ lived and taught us.

Dear brothers and sisters, with great humility, do all that you can to show that the consecrated life is a precious gift to the Church and to the world.  Do not keep it to yourselves; share it, bringing Christ to every corner of this beloved country.  Let your joy continue to find expression in your efforts to attract and nurture vocations, and recognize that all of you have some part in forming the consecrated men and women of tomorrow.  Whether you are given more to contemplation or to the apostolic life, be zealous in your love of the Church in Korea and your desire to contribute, through your own specific charism, to its mission of proclaiming the Gospel and building up God’s people in unity, holiness and love.

Commending all of you, and in a special way the aged and infirm members of your communities, to the loving care of Mary, Mother of the Church, I cordially impart my blessing as a pledge of enduring grace and peace in Jesus her Son.