On the first day of his historic Papal visit to the Republic of Korea today, Pope Francis has met with South Korea's Catholic bishops both to remember the rich history of witness to the faith by martyrdom in that country, but also to look forward to the future with another kind of witness, missionary zeal. “As pastors, you are responsible for guarding the Lord’s flock. You are guardians of the wondrous works which he accomplishes in his people,” the Holy Father said in remarks to the country's episcopate. “Guarding is one of the tasks specifically entrusted to the bishop: looking after God's people,” said Francis, who further said that in a particular way, Korea's bishops are to be "guardians of memory and guardians of hope." The Holy Father has been invited to South Korea by the country's President and its bishops.
“You are the children of the martyrs, heirs to their heroic witness of faith in Christ,” the Pope pointed out.. “You are also heirs to an impressive tradition which began, and largely grew, through the fidelity, perseverance and work of generations of lay persons.” The Pontiff praised the country's active parish life and vibrant lay ecclesial movements, saying that effective catechesis has lead to good Catholic education and prosperous growth in vocations. “From being a land of mission, yours has now become a land of missionaries; and the universal Church continues to benefit from the many priests and religious whom you have sent forth.”
The Pope emphasized that in the midst of ecclesiastical growth and national prosperity, a life centered on the Gospel demands that Korean Christians remember the needs of the poor and form a radical solidarity with them. “Solidarity with the poor has to be seen as an essential element of the Christian life; through preaching and catechesis grounded in the rich patrimony of the Church’s social teaching, it must penetrate the hearts and minds of the faithful and be reflected in every aspect of ecclesial life,” the Pope declared. “May we be saved from that spiritual and pastoral worldliness which stifles the Spirit, replaces conversion by complacency, and, in the process, dissipates all missionary fervor!”