Pope tells Korean Catholics to be ‘apostles of peace’

Pope Francis meets with South Korean Cardinal Lazarus You Heung-sik, prefect of the Dicastery for the Clergy, during an audience commemorating the anniversary of the martyrdom of St. Andrew Kim Taegon at the Vatican Sept. 16, 2023. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Gospel does not divide, but unites, by urging people to be close to others in a spirit of service and peace, Pope Francis told visitors from South Korea on the anniversary of the martyrdom of the nation’s first Korean-born Catholic priest and martyr, St. Andrew Kim Taegon.

“I would then like to invite you to rediscover your vocation as ‘apostles of peace’ in every sphere of life,” he told his visitors during an audience at the Vatican Sept. 16. The group included South Korean Cardinal Lazarus You Heung-sik, prefect of the Dicastery for the Clergy, and Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, retired archbishop of Seoul.

While just a student, the saint witnessed “the horrors of the Opium Wars; yet, in that conflictual context, he managed to be a seed of peace for many, proving his aspiration to meet everyone and dialogue with everyone,” the pope said.

“It is a prophecy for the Korean Peninsula and for the whole world: it is the stimulus to become companions on the road and witnesses of reconciliation; it is the credible testimony that the future is built not with the violent force of weapons, but with the gentle one of proximity,” he said.

“Let us entrust to St. Andrew Kim the dream of peace on the Korean Peninsula, which is always in my thoughts and prayers,” the pope said.

He urged the Korean Catholic Church, especially its young people, to collaborate and “carry forward the proclamation of the Gospel together” without divisions.

“The Gospel does not divide, but unites; it urges one to incarnate oneself and to make oneself close within one’s own culture, within one’s own history, with meekness and in a spirit of service, without ever creating conflicts, but always building communion. Building communion. Reflect well on this,” he said.

Reminding the group that the next World Youth Day will be held in Seoul in 2027, he asked young Koreans to “zealously devote yourselves to spreading the Word of God. In particular, I would like to entrust the Korean church precisely to young people.”

Later the same day, the visitors attended the blessing of a six-ton marble statue of St. Kim placed in a niche on the exterior of St. Peter’s Basilica.

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