Catholic bishop among the 1,145 Christian martyrs of the Korean War

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South Korea’s Catholic Church has welcomed a state agency report that more than 1,100 Christians, including a prominent Catholic bishop, were massacred for their faith by North Korean forces during the Korean War. .

March 08, 2022

Bishop Francis Hong Yong-ho of Pyongyang was imprisoned by North Korean forces in 1949 and later forcibly disappeared. (Photo: Korea Catholic Bishops’ Conference)

SEOUL: South Korea’s Catholic Church has welcomed a state agency report that more than 1,100 Christians, including a prominent Catholic bishop, were massacred for their faith by North Korean forces during the Korean War. .

The North Korean army murdered 1,145 Christians, including 119 Catholics and 1,026 Protestants, during their retreat from the South following military operations by United Nations forces which began on September 26, 1950, according to the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The massacres of clerics were carried out after North Korea gave orders to ‘eliminate reactionary forces’ before its withdrawal from the South, according to the report based on documentary research, testimonies and visits to the churches of the victims , reported the Yonhap news agency. .

The state commission said the killings may have stemmed from the North’s policy of defining Christianity as “an impure force” that justified oppression.

Father Francis Cho Han-geon, director of the Korean Church History Research Institute, said the report is of great significance to the church.

“The report is an important document because it includes all martyrs before and after the Korean War who are promoted for canonization by the Korean Church,” Fr. Cho said. Korea Catholic Time.

Among the victims was Bishop Francis Hong Yong-ho of Pyongyang, who was imprisoned by North Korean forces in 1949 and then disappeared.

In 2014, the Vatican accepted Bishop Hong as a Servant of God – the first step to canonization in the Church, making him North Korea’s top candidate for sainthood.

Bishop Hong was born in 1906 and ordained a priest in 1933 when Korea was under Japanese occupation. He was ordained a bishop in 1944 to lead the Apostolic Vicariate of Pyongyang.

Until 2013, the official Vatican directory listed Bishop Hong as the head of the Church of Pyongyang who had “disappeared”. The deceased bishop would have been 107 years old that year.

Although not officially declared dead, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea (CBCK) has opened the cause for his canonization and some 80 companions of the bishop who were also martyred by the North Korean military.

The late Cardinal Nicholas Cheong, former Archbishop of Seoul, hailed the recognition of Archbishop Hong as a Servant of God as “a gesture from the Holy See to highlight the tragedy that the Church in Korea has suffered and is still going through.”

Korea was a unified nation ruled for centuries by the staunchly Buddhist Joseon dynasty (1392-1897). It became a protectorate of Japan by the Korea-Japan Eulsa Treaty in 1905 after Japan’s victory in the Russo-Japanese War the same year.

Japan’s imperial rule (1905-1945) ended after World War II, resulting in the division of Korea in two by the United States and the Soviet Union. Several efforts to unify Korea failed due to disagreements between the American and Soviet regimes and culminated in the Korean War (1950-53).

North Korean communist forces invaded the South during the war and the brutal conflict left some 4 million dead and around 10 million families displaced.

The war ended with an armistice, not a war treaty, on July 27, 1953. This means that the nations are technically still at war.ucanews.com

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