Friday, May 18, 2012

New Archbishop of Seoul

On May 10, 2012,  Bishop Andrew Yeom Soo-jung was appointed the new archbishop of Seoul. Bishop Yeom replaces Cardinal Nicholas Cheong Jin-suk who resigned when he reached 75, but  not accepted at that time. Both Catholic Papers, of course, carried the news and had editorials on  the change of leadership in the Seoul Diocese. June 15th  will be the farewell Mass for Cardinal Cheong; the installation Mass for Archbishop Yeom will be on June 25, 2012.

Archbishop Yeom was born in Anseong, Gyeonggi Province in 1943 and ordained a priest in 1970. In 2002 he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Seoul. He has served as vicar general of the diocese for the last 10 years. Few would know the diocese as well.

On receiving the announcement  he said, "I am so overwhelmed that I will have this  tremendous responsibility succeeding Cardinal Cheong. I will always try to listen to the opinions of diocesan priests and the faithful with open mind. I will also pay more attention to work for the Pro-life and the  evangelization ministry, the pastoral aims of Cardinal Cheong."

The reason all have been concerned  on the new appointment was because of Seoul's position in the country. Seoul is the capital and  Catholicism has its roots in Seoul. 27 percent of the total number of  Catholics live in the archdiocese of Seoul. Many see the Catholicism of Korea through the eyes of Seoul.

The problems that the Catholic Church has to face are many. The large increase in the number of Catholics requires concern for the inner maturity of these new Christians. There is also the decrease in the numbers entering, the exodus of many of the young, many leaving behind the traditional spirituality of the past, and the importance of sacramental life is fading. Serious problems that the new archbishop will encounter.

The editorial goes on to mention the problems of the larger society that  will impinge on the Church: gap between the rich and poor, the economic recession, the pervasiveness of the culture of death, and environmental problems. The  Church can't only be  concerned  with  its own  internal Church problems, but has to go out into society to be the salt and light. 

We all congratulate the new ordinary and are happy but at the same time as the bishop said: "afraid and with a trembling heart" he begins his new work. We will remember him and the diocese in our prayers.

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