While the US eyes a possible nuclear deal with Kim Jong Un, Christians are subjected to brutal interrogation and imprisonment.
There is a “good chance” of reaching a deal on North Korean nuclear disarmament, President Donald J. Trump said on Sunday. The president said the date and place of a second summit with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un had been agreed.
But the plight of Christians in North Korea remains dismal, an Associated Press report revealed this week.
Even Christians who stay deep underground face danger, defectors now living in South Korea told the wire service.
Defectors’ stories include that of Kwak Jeong-ae, 65, who said a fellow inmate in North Korea told guards about her own religious beliefs and insisted on using her baptized name, rather than her original Korean name, during questioning in 2004:
“She persisted in saying, ‘My name is Hyun Sarah; it’s the name that God and my church have given to me,’” Kwak said. “She told (the interrogators), ‘I’m a child of God and I’m not scared to die. So if you want to kill me, go ahead and kill me.’”
Kwak said Hyun told her about what she did during the interrogations, and Hyun’s actions were confirmed to Kwak by another inmate who was interrogated alongside her. Kwak said she later saw Hyun, then 23, coming back from an interrogation room with severe bruises on her forehead and bleeding from her nose. Days later, guards took Hyun away for good.
Another defector said she only prayed under a blanket or in the bathroom because of worries of being caught. Another, who was jailed after being repatriated from China, where many Koreans took refuge during a 1990s-era famine, described praying silently in his jail cell after a hungry fellow prisoner shared some precious kernels of corn.
“We communicated by writing on our palms (with our fingers),” he told AP. “I told him I was a Christian and asked whether he was too.”
North Korea had a flourishing population of Christians before the 1950-53 Korean War, AP explained, but it has withered amid successive clampdowns against a faith the government sees as a U.S.-led Western threat.
Jung Gwangil, a North Korean defector-turned-activist, and one of the few who allowed AP to use his name in print, said he saw a man praying and singing hymns when they were held together at a detention facility in the northern city of Hoeryong in October 1999. The man was beaten frequently and one day was hauled away, Jung said.
“While leaving, he shouted to us, ‘God will save you.’ I hadn’t encountered Christianity before at the time, and I thought he was crazy,” Jung told the wire service.
Worried about the future? Find peace in this short prayer
It’s relatively easy to be worried about the future. We simply don’t know what is going to happen today, tomorrow, or next year. This state of uncertainty can cripple us at times, keeping us from doing anything out of fear of the unknown. St. Josemaria Escriva consoled someone in a similar frame of mind, who…
It’s relatively easy to be worried about the future. We simply don’t know what is going to happen today, tomorrow, or next year. This state of uncertainty can cripple us at times, keeping us from doing anything out of fear of the unknown.
St. Josemaria Escriva consoled someone in a similar frame of mind, who said to him (as quoted in The Way of the Cross), “Father, I am having a very rough time.”
In response, the saint composed a short but peaceful prayer of abandonment, entrusting to God everything past, present and future.
My Lord and my God: into your hands I abandon the past and the present and the future, what is small and what is great, what amounts to a little and what amounts to a lot, things temporal and things eternal.
Asking his friend to pray this prayer, St. Josemaria wrote, “Then, don’t worry any more.”
The only way we can move forward in calm is to entrust our “rough times” to God and then let the worry go. He is in control, and will be with us every step of the way.
Pope Francis reminisces about 6th grade
Perhaps it wouldn’t be wrong to say that our Jesuit pope also has Salesian roots. Pope Francis hinted at this on Sunday, May 24, the feast of Mary Help of Christians, which is an important Salesian feast. “Today, on the day of Mary Help of Christians, I address an affectionate and cordial greeting to the…
Perhaps it wouldn’t be wrong to say that our Jesuit pope also has Salesian roots. Pope Francis hinted at this on Sunday, May 24, the feast of Mary Help of Christians, which is an important Salesian feast.
“Today, on the day of Mary Help of Christians, I address an affectionate and cordial greeting to the Salesians,” he said, following the midday Regina Coeli prayer at the Vatican’s Apostolic Library. “I recall with gratitude the spiritual formation I received from the sons and daughters of Don Bosco.”
The Pope did not mention it directly, but he was referring to 1949 when he and his younger brother, Oscar, were enrolled as boarders at Colegio Wilfrid Barón de los Santos Ángeles run by the Salesians at Ramos Mejía.
Pope in Salesian school
The Virgin Mary, under the title Mary Help of Christians, is the principal patroness of the Salesians of Don Bosco, the religious congregation that Don Bosco founded in 1859 in the northern Italian city of Turin, to serve the young people.
The city’s Basilica of Mary Help of Christians, which was commissioned by Don Bosco himself, remains the heart of the Salesians of Don Bosco.
The Argentine Pope’s remarks on Sunday is not the first time that he has spoken about the influence of the Salesians of Don Bosco in his childhood.
Turin, June 22, 2015
Pope Francis visited Turin, June 21-22, 2015, during which he joined the Salesians in celebrating the 200th birth centenary of Don Bosco, who was born on August 16, 1815, and died on January 31, 1888.
During his visit, the Pope met the Salesians, including the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, known as the Salesian sisters, which Don Bosco co-founded with Saint Mary Mazzarello.
While commending Don Bosco’s ministry for young people, the Pope recounted fond childhood memories of his family’s closeness to the Salesians and how, when his mother was ill, he was taken out of public school to spend one year studying with the Salesians.
The Holy Father spoke of how he grew very attached to the Salesian community in the year he spent with them and that one priest, in particular, followed him from Baptism to the realization of his vocation, accompanying him ultimately on his journey to the Jesuit Order.
Salesian priests Fathers Enrico Pozzoli and Cayetano Bruno are particularly remembered by the Pope.
“Evangelii gaudium with St John Bosco”
Again, in January 2019, Pope Francis wrote a preface to the book, “Evangelii gaudium con don Bosco” (Evangelii gaudium with St John Bosco), a collection of reflections by 25 members of the Salesian family.
Commending the spirit of joy of Don Bosco, despite the thousands of “difficulties that besieged him every day”, the Pope recalled his association with the Salesians as a boy in Argentina.
While studying in a Salesian school, he wrote in the preface, he found that same “climate of joy and family.” The Salesians, he said, trained him to appreciate beauty, work, and cheerfulness – and this, he told the Salesians, “is your vocation.”
Houston church closes again after priests test positive for COVID-19
Catholic churches in Texas had begun offering Mass for the public again in early May. But at one parish, public Masses were abruptly suspended again after three priests tested positive for COVID-19. “Today we learned that three members of the Redemptorists community living and working at Holy Ghost Parish have tested positive for COVID-19, Fr.…
Catholic churches in Texas had begun offering Mass for the public again in early May. But at one parish, public Masses were abruptly suspended again after three priests tested positive for COVID-19.
“Today we learned that three members of the Redemptorists community living and working at Holy Ghost Parish have tested positive for COVID-19, Fr. William Bueche, C.Ss.R., pastor of Holy Ghost, said in a statement May 16. “While the individuals themselves are asymptomatic, they, and the other members of the community, are in quarantine in the residence isolated from the others. All members of the household have been tested and are awaiting results.”
Fr. Bueche said that one of the individuals who tested positive had been active in celebrating public Masses at Holy Ghost since the church reopened on May 2. He urged anyone who has attended Masses in person at Holy Ghost since the reopening to “monitor your health for any symptoms and be tested for COVID-19, as a precautionary measure.”
The priest said he informed the City of Houston Health Department about the situation.
In a statement issued Monday, the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston noted that, Fr. Donnell Kirchner, a 79-year-old priest at Holy Ghost died. “The specific cause of death is unknown, but he had been recently treated at an urgent care clinic who referred him to a hospital emergency room,” the statement read. “He was diagnosed with pneumonia but he was not admitted to the hospital and ws sent home with medication. It is not clear if he was tested for covid-19 at either faciity. He returned to the residence he shared with seven other members of his religious order.”
The statement said that following Fr. Kirchner’s death, the other Redemptorists “sought medical advice, and all were tested for the coronavirus. Although the parish had followed cleaning, sanitation and social distancing guidelines described by State health officials since reopening on May 2, they determined at that time it was best to close the church immediately to public Masses until the results of their tests were known.”
The archdiocese also noted that in-person attendance at Holy Ghost had been “closely controlled” and that attendance at Mass on Sunday never exceeded 179, far short of the 900-person capacity. Weekday Mass attendance as a “small fraction of that amount.”
An earlier statement on the parish website said that Masses would be canceled as of May 14 because the Redemptorist community was self-quarantining while awaiting results of the COVID-19 tests. Suspension of Masses included the funeral for Fr. Kirchner originally scheduled on Saturday, May 16.