A few days before Pope Francis arrived in Korea on his recent Apostolic Journey, 13-18 August, on the occasion of the 6th Asian Youth Day, the Regional Director of the Columbans in Korea, Fr Donal O'Keeffe, was interviewed on Korea Today, an English-language current affairs programme on South Korea's Arirang TV.
13-17 August 2014, Republic of Korea
Fr O'Keeffe speculated, in the context of the beatification of 124 Korean martyrs on 16 August, that the Pope would emphasise the heritage that the Korean church of today had received from the witness of the martys, and to show similar witness, even if it would not involve having to lay down their lives.
As it turned out, Pope Francis put great emphasis on this. (Emphases added below.)
- In his address to the Bishops of Korea on 14 August he called on them to be guardians of memory and guardians of hope. Being guardians of memory means more than remembering and treasuring the graces of the past; it also means drawing from them the spiritual resources to confront with vision and determination the hopes, the promise and the challenges of the future.
- In his homily on the Solemnity of the Assumption the Pope said: As Korean Catholics, heirs to a noble tradition, you are called to cherish this legacy and transmit it to future generations. This will demand of everyone a renewed conversion to the word of God and a passionate concern for the poor, the needy and the vulnerable in our midst.
- In speaking to the delegates to Asian Youth Day on 15 August the Holy Father said to them: Just as the Lord made his glory shine forth in the heroic witness of the martyrs, so too he wants to make his glory shine in your lives, and through you, to light up the life of this vast continent.
- The Bishop of Rome continued the same theme in his homily at the Beatification Mass on 16 August: The victory of the martyrs, their witness to the power of God’s love, continues to bear fruit today in Korea, in the Church which received growth from their sacrifice.
- 16 August was a very busy day for Pope Francis, who spoke to leaders of the Apostolate of the Laity: The Church in Korea, as we all know, is heir to the faith of generations of lay persons who persevered in the love of Christ Jesus and the communion of the Church despite the scarcity of priests and the threat of severe persecution. Blessed Paul Yun Ji-chung and the martyrs beatified today represent an impressive chapter of this history. They bore witness to the faith not only by their sufferings and death, but by their lives of loving solidarity with one another in Christian communities marked by exemplary charity. This precious legacy lives on in your own works of faith, charity and service.
- Faith as a gift, as a heritage received from earlier generations and therefore to be handed on by us to future generations, was spoken of by Pope Francis
in his homily at the closing Mass of Asian Youth Day on 17 August: The martyrs of Korea – and innumerable others throughout Asia – handed over their bodies to their persecutors; to us they have handed on a perennial witness that the light of Christ’s truth dispels all darkness, and the love of Christ is gloriously triumphant. With the certainty of his victory over death, and our participation in it, we can face the challenge of Christian discipleship today, in our own circumstances and time. Further on the Pope reminds the young delegates from all over Asia that they are part of the Church in the present: As young Christians, whether you are workers or students, whether you have already begun a career or have answered the call to marriage, religious life or the priesthood, you are not only a part of the future of the Church; you are also a necessary and beloved part of the Church’s present!
The Vatican website, www.vatican.va, has a link to all of the Pope's homilies and addresses