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Ninety years for Pyongyang diocese

SEOUL (UCAN): The 90th anniversary of the foundation of the diocese of Pyongyang in North Korea was marked on March 18 at a Mass celebrated in Seoul’s Myeongdong cathedral in the presence of some 500 people who had lived in the northern city prior to the division of the country by the war that ran from 1950 to 1953.

The archbishop of Seoul, who is also the apostolic administrator of Pyongyang, Andrew Cardinal Yeom Soo-jung, said, “Let’s pray for the faithful who are suffering under Communist rule and those in Pyongyang diocese. This should be a starting point to repent, pray and find a new hope.”

Cardinal Yeom said that he believes that Catholic activity in North Korea represents little more than a show for foreigners amid criticism over religious persecution.

He commented that Pyongyang diocese exists only on paper.
Pyongyang was not made a fullblown diocese until 1962, when Church life had all but been shut down, but began its existence in 1927 as an apostolic prefecture.

The area had been under the care of the Maryknoll Society and the first bishop among them was Bishop William O’Shea, who was appointed in 1939 as bishop of Heijo.

It only became Pyongyang in 1950, when its one bishop was still presumed to be still alive.

Bishop Francis Hong Yong-ho was imprisoned in 1949 and has not been seen or heard of since. He is presumed to have died in the 1950s, probably in a labour camp.

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