Tuesday, February 28, 2006

You go, Cardinal-Designate!

Cardinal Demands NK Admit Priests
By Kim Ki-tae
Staff Reporter

Korea’s second cardinal, Cheong Jin-suk, Monday suggested that Pope Benedict XVI would not visit North Korea as long as North Korea disallow dispatch of Catholic priests to the Communist nation.

"We have demanded several times Pyongyang accept Catholic priests of any nationality. However, North Korea kept saying it is not time yet," Cheong said during a press conference held at Myongdong Catholic Cathedral in central Seoul. It was his official press conference since being named second South Korean cardinal. "Therefore it is difficult for the pontiff to pay a visit to the North."

Asked if the cardinal intends to visit Pyongyang, Cheong in effect rejected the possibility by not giving a clear answer. "Before the reconciliation across the border, I think the two Koreas at first need to apologize to each other for their past deeds," he said.

The new cardinal, however, pointed out the Korean Catholic church will keep supplying supports for the impoverished nation. "Conditions have grown worse as many people become skeptical about unconditional support for North Korea. However, we will continue our humanitarian efforts," Cheong said. The Korean Catholic church has sent foods and other necessities worth 10 billion won ($10 million) for the past 10 years. The cardinal said the support is provided as a humanitarian cause rather than as part of missionary works in the reclusive regime.

Before Korea’s liberation, North Korea had around 58 Catholic churches and around 55,000 followers, but during the Korean War all of the churches were known to be destroyed. "A rumor has it that there around some 1,000 to 3,000 North Korean Catholics. It needs confirming," he said.


Amen! Preach it brotha'! But really, I don't suppose Korea could be Benedict's version of the Iron Curtain, but the harm in hoping and trying is exactly where?