Stephen Cardinal Kim was a work of art.
He was like a lake that reflects the sky, and the light and the scenery around it.
You can't be awe-struck by a lake.
It demands nothing for itself, but enhances everything around it,
Allows us to contemplate beauty.
In April, 1974 I spend 40 minutes in his quarters talking to him alone.
How I wish I could remember more of what he said.
I was very wound up about false arrests and torture
And am sure I did most of the talking, especially as he was such a good attentive listener.I had knocked at his door and began to apologize to him for the impertinent letter I'd written about the lack of Catholic reaction to worsening repression.
`But before I'd gotten a few words out of my mouth, he ushered me in, seated me while
saying, and waving his hand:
"No, no no! These are daily problems of my heart."
In the 35 years since that April day I have often repeated those words of his to me and I usually tear up and sometimes choke up, too, when I say them.
Just like I tear up and choke up seeing shots on TV of the long lines of people waiting to spend a few seconds before his body in the cathedral.
One day in 1969 or 70, soon after taking office, he came to Maryknoll and spoke to us, asking a favor of us as citizens of a culture that was by nature more tolerant of
differences than most.
"Our Korean Catholics would die to protect the Church, but they are not trained to care for the rights of others," he told us, and asked, "Teach them to do so in your parishes."
I filed that away, remembering it only years later, after that unfair letter I'd written him, unaware as I was of the "daily problems of his heart"
The cathedral he was buried from became what he wanted it to be, the center of more
than Roman Catholic worship. Those 400,000 mourners proved that to be true, By
providing sanctuary behind its wall he broke down walls, and by being the person he was, he led the Church out of its own walls.