Vatican City, 12 March 2015 (VIS) – The Pope received the bishops of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea this morning, at the end of their “ad Limina” visit. In the written discourse he prepared for the prelates, extensive extracts of which are published below, the Holy Father refers to his visit to the country last year during which he experienced first hand the goodness of the Korean people who shared their joys and sorrows with him, and affirmed that the trip remains “a lasting encouragement” to him in his ministry to the Universal Church.
“In the course of my visit, we had the opportunity to reflect on the life of the Church in Korea and, in particular, on our episcopal ministry in the service of the People of God and of society”, he writes. “I wish to continue that reflection with you today,by highlighting three aspects of my visit: memory, youth and the mission of confirming our brothers and sisters in the faith. I would like also to share these thoughts with the Churchin Mongolia. Though a small community in a vast territory, it is like the mustard seed which is the pledge of the fullness of God’s Kingdom. May these reflections encourage the continuing growth of that seed, and nourish the rich soil of the Mongolian people’s faith”.
“For me, one of the most beautiful moments of my visit to Korea was the beatification ofthe martyrs Paul Yun Ji-chung and companions. … Even before their faith found full expression in the sacramental life of the Church, these first Korean Christians not only fostered their personal relationship with Jesus, but brought him to others, regardless of class or social standing, and dwelt in a community of faith and charity like the first disciples of the Lord. … Their love of God and neighbour was fulfilled in the ultimate act of freely laying down their lives, thereby watering with their own blood the seedbed of the Church. That first community has left you and all of the Church a beautiful witness of Christian living: 'their integrity in the search for truth, their fidelity to the highest principles of the religion which they chose to embrace, and their testimony of charity and solidarity with all'. Their example is a school which can form us into evermore faithful Christian witnesses by calling us to encounter, to charity and to sacrifice. The lessons which they taught are particularly applicable in our times when, despite the many advancements being made in technology and communication, individuals are increasingly becoming isolated and communities weakened. How important it is, then, that you work together with the priests, religious men and women, and lay leaders of your dioceses, to ensure that parishes, schools and centres of the apostolate are authentic places of encounter: encounter with the Lord who teaches us how to love and who opens our eyes to the dignity of every person, and encounter with one another, especially the poor, the elderly, the forgotten in our midst”.
“My thoughts now turn to your young people who greatly desire to carry forward the legacy of your ancestors. … Just as the witness of the first Christians calls us to care for one another, so our youth challenge us to hear one another. … When we speak with young people, they challenge us to share the truth of Jesus Christ clearly and in a way that they can understand. They also test the authenticity of our own faith and fidelity. Though it is Christ we preach and not ourselves, we are called to be an example to the People of God in order to draw people to him. … As you reflect on the life of your dioceses, as you formulate and revise your pastoral plans, I urge you to keep before you the young whom you serve. See them as partners in 'building a holier, more missionary and humble Church, a Church which loves and worships God by seeking to serve the poor, the lonely, the infirm and the marginalised'. Be close to them. … This closeness will not only strengthen the institutions and communities of the Church, but will also help you to understand the difficulties they and their families are experiencing in their daily lives in society. In this way, the Gospel will penetrate ever more deeply the life of the Catholic community as well as that of society as a whole”.
“As you prepare to return to your local Churches, as well as encouraging you in your ministry and confirming you in your mission, I ask you, above all, to be servants, just as Christ came to serve, and not to be served. Ours is a life of service, freely given, for each soul entrusted to our care, without exception. … In this spirit of service, may you be solicitous for one another. By your collaboration and fraternal support, you will strengthen the Church in Korea and Mongolia and become ever more effective in proclaiming Christ.