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Rome Reports

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Pope John Paul II and Korea: The trip that changed everything

Fr. Andrew Kim Taegon, martyred in 1846 at the age of 25, was the first Korean man to be ordained a priest in the history of the Catholic Church. In a memorable trip to Seoul in 1984, Pope John Paul II canonized Fr. Taegon along with 102 other martyrs, many of whom were part of the laity.  The canonizations were a direct acknowledgment of the Churchâ??s great history in that country.  FR. DON JONG-SU JOHN KIM Rector, Pontifical Korean College (Rome) "It was the laity who introduced the Catholic Church in Korea. This is a unique situation for the rest of the world. After its introduction, the faith grew through the blood of the martyrs. Catholics in Korea were persecuted for almost a century following the establishment of the Church in the country.â?  In 1989 John Paul II returned to Korea to hold the International Eucharistic Congress. The impact of this visit is still felt today.  FR. DON JONG-SU JOHN KIM Rector, Pontifical Korean College (Rome) "Almost 25 years after his last visit, there are now 5 million Catholics in Korea. I still don't quite understand how he managed to achieve this, but I know that his visit was very dear to Korean people.â?  John Paul II not only strengthened the presence of the Church in Korea, but he also brought Korea to Rome. During his pontificate, he opened the Pontifical Korean College, which was founded in 1990 and then blessed by him in 1998.  Decades later his vision still bears fruit. The seminary is now a place where both current and future priests from Africa, Oceania, and of course Asia can study in the Eternal City.  PM/LK AA FA -PR Up:AC