Francis in South Korea

When Pope Francis visits South Korea on Aug. 14 to 18, he will find a Catholic Church that exemplifies much of what he hopes for the church around the world, including a highly active laity, extensive efforts to help the needy and strong relations with non-Christian communities. [America will provide exclusive coverage of the pope’s visit to Korea by its new Vatican correspondent, Gerard O’Connell.] So says a retired American missionary, Bishop William J. McNaughton, 87, who arrived in Korea as a Maryknoll missionary in 1954 and served as the first bishop of Inchon from 1962 until his retirement 2002. “The blood of martyrs is why the church is so strong in Korea,” the bishop said, noting the more than 10,000 Korean Catholics were killed for the faith between 1785 and 1886. Pope Francis will beatify 124 of them on Aug. 16. One legacy of that persecution is an extraordinarily prominent role for lay Catholics, who helped the church survive for more than half of its first century in Korea without the ministry of clergy.

 

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