This year is the 150th year of the beginning of the Pyong-in persecution. Twenty-four martyrs were beatified in 1968 and 103 were canonized in 1984 on the pope's visit to Korea. Of this number ten were French missionaries, members of the Paris Foreign Mission Society.
During the past month Catholics from the dioceses from which these men came visited Korea on pilgrimage: 66 pilgrims with the head of the bishops' conference, members of the hierarchy and lay people.
In both Catholic weeklies, we had articles on the visit in which they thanked the Catholics of Korea for their kindness in welcoming them. They received the impression of a very vigorous faith life. One of the priest descendants of bishop Saint Anthony Daveluy, gave this advice: "I am looking at a Church that was similar to the French Church of 150 years ago. I earnestly hope that the Korean Church does not go the way the Church of France went and this means they need to live the Gospel life."
The delegation led by Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard of Bordeaux visited the many pilgrimage sites of the Pyong-in persecution. They were able to see the places where the bishops and priests of the Paris Mission Society worked in Korea. The missioners had in mind the education of priests to follow them. St. Kim Tae-gon, Andrew was the first Korean priest and the second was Thomas Choi Yang-eop.
The Paris Foreign Mission Society from its beginning was entrusted with the mission work in Asia. They promoted evangelization in the territories from Thailand to China. Attentive always to the necessity of finding local candidates to the diocesan priesthood. They did an admirable job in Korea with the loss of many lives and great suffering.
Finally, in 1886, a treaty with the French government guaranteed the status of French missionaries, and the freedom of religion was finally established. The persecution for almost a 100 years finally ended and the work of the missioners became easier.
An editorial in the Peace Weekly mentions the delegation was kept busy with celebrations, events, exhibition halls and elements which brought praise but prayerful time or time devoted to remembering the martyrs was limited. There was a lot of activity but the living of the Gospel life was missing.
If the Korean Church is not to follow the way of the eldest daughter of the Church we need to change the way we do pastoral work says the editorial and even before we fine tune our structures the community members have to start living the Gospel and practicing the virtues.