February 20, 2009

"Have We Mourned Like This Before?"

Rocco Palmo over at Whispers in the Loggia has the story of the funeral of Seoul's Cardinal Stephen Kim.

The first Korean cardinal, Kim -- who led the Seoul church for three decades, watching it grow sixfold in the process -- died Monday at 86. Including the country's current and former presidents, some 400,000 mourners of all faiths were said to have filed past his coffin over its four-day lying in state in the city's Myeongdong Cathedral.

Hailed as a "true guiding light" and the last "reliable leader in Korean society" despite the church's minority status -- around 15% of South Korea's 38 million citizens are Catholic -- the outpouring of reaction at the cardinal's death moved one newspaper to lead its coverage with a headline asking "Have We Mourned Like This Before?"

Religious leaders from Protestantism, Buddhism, Won-Buddhism and Cheondoism took up the first-row at the funeral Mass.

As one editorial said
The mourning transcended age, social status and political ideology.

People gathered at the cathedral from 2 to 3 a.m., and by 6 a.m., when people were allowed in to pay their condolences, a line stretching for 3 km had already formed, while people continued to pour in until midnight when the cathedral closed its doors. Mourners had to wait three to four hours in the freezing cold, but there was no jostling, shouting or cutting in line. Rather, people yielded their spots to let the elderly go first.
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A wise society uses the deaths of great people to mark the era that preceded that event and to prepare for the next one. The 58 years that transpired from 1951, when Cardinal Kim was ordained as a priest, until his death in 2009, were a microcosm of Korea’s history of trials and accomplishments, ranging from war and devastation, the division of a nation, dictatorship, industrialization and democratization to social polarization. Cardinal Kim embraced all Koreans living in such difficult times, consistently urging us to be patient. He told us that there is an end to pain. And in doing so, he gave us both courage and hope.

 Cardinal Kim Korea

To understand his Great Legacy, read Called Home from Korea

Posted by Jill Fallon at February 20, 2009 3:05 PM | Permalink