The pope received a group of believers from South Korea who traveled to Rome to erect a statue of martyr Andrew Kim Taegon in a niche in St. Peter’s Basilica. Francis described his figure as a role model for the church, to which he entrusted young people with a view to World Youth Day in Seoul: “They are often seduced by the false myths of efficiency and consumerism, but their heart is looking for something else. The invitation to “send” the missionaries.
Salvatore Cernuzio – Vatican City
With the Korean peninsula “always in my thoughts and prayers,” represented by about two hundred pilgrims who came to the Vatican to bless a statue of martyr Andrew Kim Taegon in an external niche of St. Peter’s, Pope Francis said: “a dream”, the dream of peace. A wish for the future, which – said the Pope in the audience this morning – “is not built with the violence of weapons, but with the gentle power of closeness”.
It is “a prophecy for the Korean peninsula and for the whole world”, today divided and torn by conflicts – explained the Pope – and pins his hopes on the Church of the Asian country, which is the target for the next World Youth Day in 2027 He was selected and visited us in 2014 on the occasion of the VI. Asian Youth Day.
“When the Korean people follow Jesus Christ, there is a beautiful witness… They are called to a young and passionate faith, which, animated by the love of God and neighbor, becomes a gift.”
The grain that dies and bears fruit
This calling is inherent in the Korean Catholic people, for whom the life and martyrdom of the first priest, Saint Andrew Kim, 177 years ago today, is a lighthouse and a guide.
“When I think of the intense life of this great saint, the words of Jesus come to my heart: ‘If a grain of wheat that has fallen to the ground does not die, it remains alone; but when it dies, it bears much.’ “These are words that help us to read with spiritual intelligence the beautiful story of their faith, whose precious seed is Saint Andrew Kim: he, Korea’s first martyr priest, was murdered very young, shortly after his ordination” – Pope Francis emphasized – and shared the memory of his prayer at Solmoe Shrine, the house where Saint Andrew Kim was born and spent his childhood: “There I prayed in silence, especially for Korea and for the young people.”
Supporting young people with a view to World Youth Day
The Pope focused his address on young people and called on the Korean Church – with a view to the next World Youth Day in Seoul in 2027 – to care for them: “Despite their wonderful story of faith and the great pastoral work they do.” Many young people, including their own, are enthusiastically seduced by the false myths of efficiency and consumerism and fascinated by the illusion of hedonism.
“The hearts of young people are looking for something else, they are made for a much wider horizon: to care for them, to seek them, to approach them, to listen to them, to proclaim to them the beauty of the Gospel, so that they may become free within.” Become joyful witnesses of truth and brotherhood.
“Send” the missionaries
This proclamation of the Gospel carried out with such “great zeal” is one of the most beautiful testimonies of St. Andrew Kim, a constant proclamation carried out “with a noble spirit, without fear of danger and despite much suffering.” , such as her grandfather and father dying as martyrs and her mother being forced to live as a beggar.
“Considering this, how could we not feel admonished to cultivate apostolic zeal in our hearts, to be a sign of a Church that goes out of itself to sow with joy the seeds of the Gospel, even through a Life sacrificed for others? Peace and with love?” asked the Pope and then spontaneously added:
“I would like to emphasize one thing: you have the grace to have so many priestly vocations. Please send them, send them to the missions, because there will be more priests than people… Send them: let them be missionaries abroad. My experience has been that in Argentina they do so much good and their missionaries do so much good. Send them out, let the priests be the ones who are needed, and let the rest go as missionaries.”
The gospel does not divide, but unites
It is indeed a fertile Church, the Church of Korea, born from the laity and “fertilized” by the blood of the martyrs: “It regenerates itself,” the Pope emphasized, drawing from its roots the generous evangelical impulse of the Witnesses and the appreciation of the role and charisms of the laity”. From this perspective, Francis recalled the importance of “expanding the space for pastoral collaboration” between priests, religious and lay people, “all together, without graduation”.
“The Gospel does not divide, but unites; It encourages you to empathize with and approach your own culture, your own history, with gentleness and a spirit of service, without creating contrasts, but always building community. Build community. Think about it carefully.”
Apostle of Peace
The invitation was therefore to be an “apostle of peace” in all areas of life. Like Andrew Kim, who experienced the horrors of the Opium Wars as a theology student in Macau: “In this conflict-ridden context, however, he managed to be a seed of peace for many by demonstrating his striving for encounter and dialogue.” With “everyone”.
“It is the encouragement to become companions and witnesses of reconciliation; “It is credible evidence that the future will be built not with the violence of weapons, but with the gentle power of closeness.”
“We entrust to Saint Andrew Kim – said the last prayer of the Bishop of Rome – the dream of peace for the Korean Peninsula, which is always in my thoughts and prayers.”