ASIA/SOUTH KOREA – The Archdiocese of Seoul celebrates the 100th anniversary of the birth of Cardinal Stephen Kim
Seoul (Agenzia Fides) – One hundred years after his birth, we must remember the late Cardinal Stephen Kim Sou-hwan, first Cardinal of South Korea, “as salt and light for the country, for having guided and strengthened the Church and Korea society”: this is what Archbishop Peter Chung Soon-taick, OCD, current Archbishop of Seoul and Apostolic Administrator of Pyongyang said, during the celebration of a memorial mass in honor of Cardinal Stephen Kim (1922 -2009).
The memorial mass for the late cardinal took place at Myeongdong Cathedral on Pentecost Sunday, in the presence of many priests and faithful. The Mass commemorated the Cardinal as a “bastion of democracy under a series of military regimes”, a figure who – Bishop Chung stressed – “is remembered with great respect, while many rumors support his beatification”. “I hope that the movement for the beatification of Cardinal Kim will spread widely among Korean Catholics,” added the archbishop.
After Mass, Bishop Chung participated in a blessing ceremony of the “Stone of Poetry”, a special memorial to Cardinal Kim, located at the entrance of Myeongdong Cathedral, on the centenary of his birth. Constructed mostly from stone materials quarried during renovations to the cathedral several years ago, the monument is engraved with Francis Jeong Ho-seung’s poem titled “Myeongdong Cathedral” in Korean and English. Prof. Matthias Hur Young-yup, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Seoul, comments, “The monument is meant to bring comfort and strength to all visitors to Myeongdong Cathedral, especially those who are non-believers or who are strangers”. Meanwhile, a series of cultural events in honor of Cardinal Kim are planned in Seoul, which will begin in July.
Born in 1922 in Daegu, Stephen Kim was ordained a priest in 1951 during the Korean War. He was Archbishop of Seoul for 30 years (1968-1998) and also Apostolic Administrator of Pyongyang for 23 years (1975-1998). Pope Paul VI elevated him to the rank of cardinal in April 1969.
Cardinal Kim worked wholeheartedly to implement the spirit of the Second Vatican Council, to intensify evangelization efforts and lay participation in the life of the Church. He promoted inter-religious dialogue and the coordination of humanitarian and charitable initiatives. Cardinal Kim is hailed for leading and strengthening the Korean Church in the midst of various trials and tribulations, including political unrest under various military regimes. He was president of the Korean Episcopal Conference twice (1970-1975 and 1981-1987). He died on February 16, 2009. When he died at the age of 86, more than 400,000 citizens, Catholics and non-Catholics, flocked to Myeongdong Cathedral to pay their respects to the beloved spiritual leader who united the nation. (AP) (Agenzia Fides, 6/9/2022)