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Dialogue with North agenda for new archbishop of Seoul

SEOUL (AsiaNews): “Dialogue with North Korea, but especially the defence of life in an increasingly secular society” are the challenges facing the new archbishop of Seoul, Father Luke Kim said of his new bishop, Archbishop Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, who was appointed on May 10.
“He was auxiliary for a long time and the retirement of Nicolas Cardinal Cheung Jin-suk was due to his age. Now the new pastor will have to address those issues that have always been uppermost in the thoughts of the Korean Church: how to respond the secularisation of our society and how to live with the north. Archbishop Yeom is in fact also apostolic administrator of Pyongyang,” Father Kim continued.
The new archbishop was born 5 December 1943 in Ansong, Suwon, to a fifth-generation Catholic family. His grandfather’s grandfather was martyred in 1850 along with other believers in the early years of the Catholic Church in Korea. Two of his five sisters are in religious life.
Archbishop Yeom was ordained a priest on 8 December 1970 in Seoul, by Stephen Cardinal Kim Sou-hwan. Since ordination, he has worked in parishes, been a professor and dean at the minor seminary in Songshin, chancellor of the Major Seminary in Seoul and archdiocesan chancellor.
On 12 December 2001 he was appointed auxiliary bishop of Seoul and was ordained a bishop on January 25 the following year.
Bioethics and dialogue with the North have been two of his major interests and he has served as president of the Commission for Life, which deals with issues related to genetic manipulation, a hot topic in South Korea.
He was also president of the Commission for the Reconciliation of the Korean people. He always pushed for dialogue and, in 2002, sent a letter to the president of North Korea’s Catholic Association, Samuel Jang Jae-eun, asking for prayer for the reconciliation and unity of the peninsula.
He wrote, “I am very happy to be involved in this noble work, to reunify the Korean people. Now, with patience and much prayer, we must focus our minds and our efforts on pushing forward a peaceful and long overdue reunification of the Korean people.”
His inauguration as archbishop is being planned for June 25, when Cardinal Cheong will officially step down.

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