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Seoul pilgrimage sites receive official recognition

SEOUL (SE): The Vatican held an official celebration in Seoul, South Korea, on September 14 recognising the martyrdom shrines of the country’s capital as official International Pilgrimage Sites, a first for Asia.
In his homily, Andrew Cardinal Yeom Soo-jung, of Seoul, said, “I believe, today’s recognition of Seoul’s Catholic Pilgrimage Routes as an International Pilgrimage Site by Vatican will become a milestone (and) that Churches in Asia and all over the globe can band together in the name of pilgrimage.”
He added his hops that the pilgrimage routes “will play a key role i introducing Korean culture as well as the Korean Church to international society.”
The event was held at the historic Seosomun Martyrs’ Shrine—South Korea’s largest—where 44 of 103 saints and 27 of 124 blesseds of the Korean Catholic Church were martyred.
The cardinal, bishops in the Archdiocese of Seoul, along with other Asian bishops concelebrated the Mass which was followed by the recognition ceremony led by Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation, and the awarding of the Papal Blessing Parchment by Archbishop Afreld Xuereb, the apostolic nuncio to South Korea.
Archbishop Fisichella said, “The Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation is convinced that Seoul’s Catholic Pilgrimage Routes is an effective way for the Church in Korea to honour the memory of her martyrs.” 
He added, “These routes can help not only pilgrims coming from Asia and all over the world, but whoever else choses to walk them, to reflect on the fact that human life laid down out of love and to open their hearts to the transforming power of God’s grace which bestows the gift of faith.”
Earlier, in a September 11 press release, Cardinal Yeom said, “As descendants of the martyrs who, through their spontaneous embrace of the faith, were forced to endure horrendous persecution and suffering, and as fellow members of the Asian Church, we eagerly await the Universal Church’s official recognition of Seoul’s International Pilgrimage Routes. We invite all the faithful of the Universal Church to walk the pilgrimage of Seoul.” UCAN reported that since 2013, the Archdiocese of Seoul organised pilgrimages to various historical sites that hold a place of significance in the more than 200 years of Church history in the city.
Archbishop Fisichella, was reported by UCAN as saying that the Church these days, with all the challenges it is facing, “needs new strong movement of evangelisation”  and that the recognition of Seoul’s pilgrimage sites shows the its efforts in evangelisation.
Cardinal Yeom said Asian Catholics “should develop better relationships through the pilgrimage. Stained in the blood and sweat of the martyrs, these pilgrimage routes are not just a legacy of the church in Korea alone,” UCAN reported the cardinal as saying.
He described the pilgrimage areas as a “sacred patrimony not only for Catholics, but for all citizens on the Korean Peninsula, the people of Asia and the world.”
The press release from the archdiocese indicated that it plans to regularly invite the Asian Catholic young people to come on pilgrimage to Seoul.

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