By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
3/12/2014 (1 year ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
The Catholic Church in South Korea has increased its membership by 70 per cent in the past 10 years. The Vatican press has announced that Pope Francis will be visiting South Korea in August. "Welcoming the invitation from the President of the Republic and the Korean bishops, His Holiness Pope Francis will make an Apostolic Voyage to the Republic of Korea from 14 to 18 August 2014, on the occasion of the Sixth Asian Youth Day, to be held in the diocese of Daejeon," an official release says.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The pope is likely to beatify a group of Korean martyrs during his trip, the Catholic News Service has reported.
"Over the past 10 years, the Catholic Church in Korea has gone from three to five million faithful. In Seoul we are 14 percent," Cardinal Nicholas Cheong Jin-suk, the then Archbishop of Seoul, said in an interview in 2012.
Prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-Jung, the current Archbishop of Seoul, has said that after he received his red hat last month, the Pope said to him: "I love Korea." The cardinal said he replied: "The Korean people love you, Holy Father!"
According to some analysts, the trip to Korea will allow the pontiff to accomplish three things at once.
Francis is finishing unfinished business left behind by Pope Benedict XVI. He made 24 trips outside Italy during his eight-year service, including two to Latin America and two to Africa, but none to Asia. The closest Benedict came was during his four outings to the Middle East.
Secondly, the trip to South Korea will allow Francis to acknowledge the dramatic growth of Catholicism across Asia and to say "thank you" for the critical contribution being made by Asian believers.
During the 20th century, Catholicism grew from 1.2 percent to 3 percent of Asia's overall population. The number of Catholics in India alone went from under two million to 17 million, and should reach 26 million by 2050. Another Asian Catholic powerhouse, the Philippines, there were more baptisms in 2012 than in France, Spain, Italy and Poland combined.
Catholicism in Korea has grown by roughly 70 percent during the last decade, to more than five million people representing about ten percent of the national population.
It's difficult to find any Catholic jurisdiction in either North America or Europe today where a growing share of priests don't hail from either the Philippines or India, and, to a lesser extent, from other Asian nations such as Korea, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Vietnam.
Third, because Francis plans to beatify 124 Korean martyrs during his stop in the country, the trip also gives him a chance to raise consciousness on one of his emerging social themes: Anti-Christian persecution in the early 21st century.
During his daily homily on March 4, Francis asserted that "there are more martyrs today than in the early days of the church" and that "so many of our brothers and sisters offer witness to Christ and are persecuted for it."
Asia is one of the regions where the violence is most the most virulent. The most lethal anti-Christian pogrom of the last two decades broke out in the northeastern Indian state of Orissa in 2008, when machete-wielding Hindu radicals went on a rampage that left an estimated 500 Christians dead and thousands more injured.
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