3. June 2015 jer

News from North Korea

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports about a North Korea trip which involved Fr Tassilo Lengger of Sankt Ottilien. Fr Tassilo, a trained agronomist, joined a delegation led by parliamentarian Hartmut Koschyk. The delegation initially took part in a service at the Pyongyang catholic cathedral, but felt compelled to leave when the sermon developed into a political diatribe.

At this time there is no public Catholif life in North Korea. The cathedral which was dedicated in 1988, is occasionally used for services, mainly in connection with the visits of foreign delegations. There are no bishops, priests or religious resident in the country. The ecclesiastical superior is the Cardinal archbishop of Seoul who holds the office of apostolic administrator of Pyongyang diocese.

The Missionary Benedictines came to Korea in 1909 and have been working in the North of the country since 1914. 38 members of the Benedictine mission where killed between 1949 and 1952. The territorial abbey Deogwon (Tokwon) near the habour city of Wonsan currently only exists on paper. Given the long history of involvement with the country, the Congregation contiues to feel a missionary responsibility for North Korea. The Holy See has appointed the abbot of Waegwan Abbey in South Korea as apostolic administrator of Deogwon. Through the efforts of abbot primate Notker Wolf a hospital was built at Rason which is supported by the Benedictines.