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3,000 Catholics remember South Korea’s first cardinal

Cardinal Stephen Kim Sou-hwan helped guide nation through dark era of military dictatorship.

 
Seoul: 

About 3,000 people gathered in Myeongdong Cathedral to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the death of South Korea’s first cardinal and most respected spiritual leader.

A memorial Mass for Cardinal Stephen Kim Sou-hwan was celebrated by Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, bishops and priests.

A memorial ceremony included speeches by Archbishop Alfred Xuereb, apostolic nuncio to South Korea, and Archbishop Hyginus Kim Hee-joong, chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea. A speech by South Korean President Moon Jae-in was read by Kim Yong-sam, vice-minister in the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism.

“This commemoratory Mass today is not only just to miss him. Even in the many difficulties and challenges all of us are undergoing in everyday life, we all should try to inherit his message of love and gratitude engraved in his last words ‘Thank you, love each other,’” Cardinal Yeom said in his homily on Feb. 16.

The Archdiocese of Seoul has prepared various events and programs during 2019 to commemorate Cardinal Kim. They include a photo exhibition, a relic exhibition, an academic symposium and a special Mass for peace and reconciliation of the Korean people.

Cardinal Kim, who was ordained as the first Korean cardinal in 1969 by Pope Paul VI and served as archbishop of Seoul from 1968 to 1998, was not only a respected religious leader for all Catholics in Korea but also a social and spiritual leader for all Korean people.

In the dark era of dictatorship and a military regime throughout the 70s and 80s, Cardinal Kim spoke out to criticize the government. “You will have to trample me first,” he said in June 1987 when riot police tried to enter Myeongdong Cathedral to capture students who were resisting the military regime.

He always spoke for the poor, the weak, the needy and the vulnerable while insisting that the Church should focus more on pastoral activities for the poor.

After he died on Feb. 16, 2009, a historic number of 400,000 Koreans people lined up to honor and remember him.

Source: UCAN

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