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Pope John Paul II’s special love for
the Blessed Mother of Naju

It has been widely known that the late Pope John Paul II had a special interest in and love for the Blessed Mother of Naju.  As he had already had a profound love for and devotion to the Blessed Mother from the earliest years of his life, it is not surprising that he also had such a deep love for the Blessed Mother of Naju who had been shedding tears and tears of blood out of her love and concern for the entire human race and pouring down fragrant oil, which is a special sign of hope, love, and her presence.  On November 6, 1994, John Paul II visited the church dedicated to the weeping Madonna in Syracuse, Italy, and said the following during the Mass.      

The Blessed Mother’s tears are part of her signs.  Her tears testify to the fact that there is a Mother in the Church and in the world. . .  These tears are also tears of prayers.  They are the tears of the Mother’s prayers, which give strength to all others’ prayers and are offered up as an entreaty for all those who are preoccupied with numerous other interests and, thus, are refusing to lend their ears to the calls from God, and are not praying.  Her tears are the tears of hope and anxious waiting for all people to open their hearts widely to welcome Christ the Redeemer, Who is the source of the light and peace for all individuals, families and the entire world.

Oh, Mother of tears!  Look down at this agonizing world with your motherly mercy. 

Wash away the tears of those who suffer pains, those who have fallen into despair, and those who have become victims of all kinds of violence.

For all people, obtain the tears of repentance and reformation of their lives that can open up the doors of their hearts to the graces that restore the love of God in them. 

After all people have witnessed the profound love in the Mother’s Heart, obtain for them the tears of joy.  Praise to Jesus Christ.  Amen.”

In Syracuse, a small city on the island of Sicily, Italy, the Blessed Mother shed tears through the medium of her image hung on the wall of a young couple’s home for four days from August 29 to September 1, 1953.  This was immediately reported to the local diocesan office.  Tears were collected on September 1, and a doctors’ report was announced on September 9, 1953, confirming that the samples tested were human tears.  During the next month, October 1953, 290 cases of reported miraculous healings were examined, and 105 of them were declared to be credible.  In December of the same year, the local Archbishop announced on the radio that he recognized the phenomena of tears in Syracuse as miraculous.  In October 1954, Pope Pius XII also made an announcement on the radio confirming the local bishop’s earlier announcement on the miracles in Syracuse.  Soon afterwards, a beautiful church was constructed in that city.


A striking contrast between Syracuse and Naju

In Naju, Korea, the Blessed Mother shed her first tears on June 30, 1985 and gave her first message in the next month, on July 18.  Messages and miracles have continued for the past 22 years, but the local Archdiocese in the City of Kwangju has not ordered any scientific test yet, has not conducted any meaningful examination of the witnesses yet, and has not carried out any authentic theological investigation yet.  Instead, numerous priests and lay people have fallen victim to ungrounded rumors and false accusations.  How can we not wail over this, as the local church authority still remains opposed even to conducting an honest examination of whether the reported messages and miracles are truly coming from God or not.  So many people believe that Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Savior of all men, has been working in Naju for such a long time, and the Blessed Mother, the Mother of the Savior and the Mother of the Church, has been entreating us so anxiously to listen to Jesus and her, shedding tears and tears of blood and bringing so many miracles, but the great majority of the people in Korea have been so obstinately turning their cold eyes to the Lord and the Blessed Mother.  One could easily see the true reality and detect the fallacy in the accusations, if only he or she made one visit to Naju and observed Julia, her volunteer helpers, and the pilgrims, but many people including some priests continue criticizing and judging based on unreliable rumors and prejudice.  How sorrowful must the Lord and the Blessed Mother be because of this?

The most serious charge against Julia and her supporters is that they are disobeying the local bishop by refusing to accept his declaration that negatively judged Naju on January 1, 1998.  However, the duty of the shepherds in the Church is to relay the Lord’s teachings and will to the faithful without any distortion or obstacle.  If they only demand unconditional and blind obedience from the faithful ignoring their conscience and sense of faith, it cannot be said that they are properly carrying out their duty.  Even in the family or school, the parents or teachers cannot force the children to accept what is not true or to carry out what is not moral.  Will it be right for the parents or teachers to impose what is not true or not moral upon the children and, then, accuse them for disobedience?  Whenever authority is abused whether in the Church or in the secular world, the damage will be great, especially when the abuse remains uncorrected for a long time.  The Church clearly teaches that the teaching authority in the Church is not above God’s truth but is its servant (Catechism of the Catholic Church #86).  In reality, however, blind obedience or compliance that is coupled with contempt for the truth and sound morality is too frequently equated with the true obedience and humility that is expected of every good Christian. 

The problems contained in the Kwangju Archdiocese’s declaration on Naju have been discussed in several other publications.  The following is a brief summary.

1.   Examination of most of the witnesses has been neglected.  Especially, Pope John Paul II, Bishops, and priests, who personally witnessed some of the miraculous signs through Julia, have not been consulted. 

2.   Scientific tests of the evidence of miracles have never been ordered by the local diocese.  All the scientific tests that have been performed so far have been arranged and paid for by the lay people. 

3.   Some of the Church teachings especially on the Holy Eucharist were distorted for the purpose of condemning the Eucharistic miracles through Julia.  The Kwangju declaration stated that it was the Church teaching that the species of bread and wine must remain unchanged even after the consecration by a priest and that the reported changes in the species of bread and wine into the species of flesh and blood in Naju violated this Church teaching.  This is a distortion of the true Church teaching, because the Church teaching only says that the priest’s consecration of bread and wine during the Mass changes the substances of bread and wine into the substances of the Lord’s flesh and blood without causing any changes in the species of the bread and wine.  In other words, this teaching only explains the effects of the priest’s Eucharistic consecration.  It does not say anything about whether the species of bread and wine change after the completion of the consecration or not.  The fact that the species of bread and wine change in the communicant’s body through the natural digestive process is already a proof that the Kwangju Declaration is wrong.  The Kwangju declaration distorted this solemn and sacred Church teaching on the Holy Eucharist and, by doing so, condemned all of the Eucharistic miracles in Church history. 

Also, in the Kwangju declaration, it is stated that the Eucharist can begin to exist only through the consecration by a validly-ordained priest and, based on this, the reported miraculous descents of the Eucharist from above in Naju were rejected.  The true Church teaching, however, only says that Our Lord gave the power of the Eucharistic consecration to His disciples and their successors only and not to anyone else such as lay people and the priests of the heretical sects, because there were several heresies in Church history that advocated universal priesthood.  The Church teaching does not say that the Eucharist can begin to exist only through the priest’s consecration.  The Kwangju declaration again distorted the Church teaching and, by doing so, contradicted all of the miraculous communions in Church history in which many Saints received communion directly from the Lord or from the angels. 

Those of the faithful who are aware of such misuse and neglect of the official duty by the local diocese in the Naju area can make petitions to that diocese and, if this does not work, to the Holy See.  They are not obligated to accept and obey the orders from the shepherds that stand on serious doctrinal errors or misuse of power.  For example, in the Fifth Century, Nestorius, the Patriarch of Constantinople, declared that the Blessed Mother was not “the Mother of God”.  If the Christians under his jurisdiction knew in their conscience that their shepherd’s teaching was incorrect and still accepted it, they would have committed a sin.  If the doctrine that the Blessed Mother is the Mother of God is denied, the divinity of Jesus Christ will also be denied.  When the divinity of Our Lord is denied, the whole structure of the Christian teachings of human salvation will collapse in the minds of those who deny the Lord’s divinity.  God gave to each one of us free will and does not desire that we violate our conscience and abandon our faith because of threats and persecutions.  When the parents or teachers teach or order what is not true or moral, the children’s duty is to ask them to correct their errors and, thus, to help them return to what is correct and just.  Of course, when the authority is properly exercised according to the truths and sound morality, we are seriously obligated to obey such authority. 


Pope John Paul II’s thoughts, hopes, and decisions revealed
in his meetings with the Bishops in Korea

1991:  It was during the Korean Bishops’ ad limina visit to the Holy See in 1991, when Pope John Paul II first officially learned about the events in Naju.  During the ad limina visit, Archbishop Victorinus Gong-Hee Yoon of the Kwangju Archdiocese said to the Pope, “Your Holiness, in my diocese, a statue of the Blessed Mother has been shedding tears.”  The Pope reportedly answered, “In such matters, it is important to observe the fruits.”

1994:  On November 24, 1994, Archbishop Giovanni Bulaitis, the Apostolic Pro-Nuncio in Korea, came to Naju as the official representative of the Holy Father.  While praying in the Chapel in Naju, he witnessed two miraculous descents of the Sacred Host.  He also met the pilgrims and examined the evidence and publications.  After the visit, Archbishop Bulaitis sent a detailed report to the Holy See.

Soon afterwards, Pope John Paul II received a photo album about Naju.  The Holy Father spent about 45 minutes intently looking at and meditating on the photographs of the Blessed Mother shedding tears and tears of blood and other photographs from Naju, with his two arms stretched as if praying during Mass.

1995:  In September 1995, Pope John Paul II sent one of his private secretaries, Msgr. Vincent Thu, to Naju and relayed the Holy Father’s message that he had great love and respect for the Blessed Mother of Naju.  The Holy Father also invited Julia, through Msgr. Thu, to attend one of the Masses in his private chapel in the Vatican.  On October 31, 1995, Julia attended the Mass with the Holy Father.  During Holy Communion, the Sacred Host she received turned into flesh and blood in the shape of a small heart.  Msgr. Nam-Ik Paik, secretary general of the Korean Bishops’ Conference, who went to the Vatican together with Julia, her husband, her daughter, and one of her volunteer helpers, was among the first ones who witnessed the Eucharist turned into visible flesh and blood.  The Pope’s private secretary, was notified, but did not understand what was going on.  He asked Julia to go to the back of the chapel and wait.  After the Mass ended, the Holy Father came out of the sacristy to meet those who attended the Mass. When he came to Julia, she opened her mouth and showed the miraculous Sacred Host to the Holy Father.  The Holy Father seemed to be surprised but did not say any words, probably because he was not expecting any miracle, blessed Julia, gave her and her husband rosaries, and went on to other visitors.  Also, at the moment when the Holy Father wintessed the miracle, the volunteer helper from Korea who accompanied Julia (Raphael Song) said, “Holy Father, it looks like a Eucharistic miracle!

1996:  Five years later, Pope John Paul II asked the visiting Korean Bishops “to share these wonderful graces with others in Asia” referring to what was happening in Naju.  The Pope was deeply interested in the evangelization of Asia, which had the largest population in the world but still remained mostly pagan and even atheistic in a large portion of it. 

Also during the same ad limina visit by the Korean Bishops, the Holy Father specially met Bishop William McNaughton of the Inchon Diocese in Korea, who was the only non-Korean Bishop in Korea at that time, and said, “Is Naju in your diocese?”  The Bishop answered, “No, Your Holiness.  It is further to the south.”  The Holy Father asked again, “What do you think of Naju?”  The Bishop answered, “I believe it is genuine.”  The Holy Father said, “I also saw the Eucharist turned into flesh and blood in Julia’s mouth.”  This information is based on the testimony that Fr. Aloysius Hong-Bin Chang of the Kwangju Archdiocese gave to his Bishop (Archbishop Andrew Choi) and his personnel committee earlier this year (May 2007).  Fr. Chang had heard it directly from Bishop William McNaughton on September 20, 1996.  Bishop McNaughton retired a few years later, and now resides in the Boston area in the U.S.A.  He continues testifying to individuals regarding the events in Naju.

2001:  In March 2001, the Korean Bishops were back in the Vatican on their ad limina visit.  In the evening of March 31, a Saturday, I received an unexpected call from Korea.  On the phone was His Excellency Bishop Paul Chang-Yeol Kim of the Cheju Diocese in Korea.  He came back from Rome and wanted to share some very important information about the ad limina visit with me.  Bishop Kim knew about our work at Mary’s Touch By Mail in Portland, Oregon, which is devoted to defending the authentic Catholic Faith and spreading the information about Naju in English, and had called me a few times before.  Bishop Kim spoke for approximately 30 minutes about what happened in the Vatican.  Actually, this is the first time I am making this information known to all the supporters of the Blessed Mother of Naju.  For six years until now, I have limited this information to our spiritual director and a few others only, because I wanted to be extremely cautious and to wait and see what the Bishops in Korea would do.  But, as the problem in Naju continued with no end in sight and the opposition based on false rumors, prejudice, and heretical doctrines also remained extremely powerful, I have finally decided to reveal this truth.  Keeping it to myself only does not seem to be pleasing to the Lord any longer.  I do not think Bishop Kim intended that I hide this information unconditionally or indefinitely and limit the joy and consolation to myself only, either.  The following is a summary of what I heard from Bishop Kim on March 31, 2001.

There were about 20 Bishops from Korea, but as the dining room in the Papal palace was not big enough, the Bishops was divided into two smaller groups of ten each.  In one group, Bishop Kim was sitting next to the Holy Father.  In the middle of the lunch, the Holy Father suddenly asked the Korean Bishops: “What is happening to Naju?”  The Korean Bishops were startled but did not know what to say in response.  Archbishop Yoon of the Kwangju Archdiocese was there, too, but did not say anything.  He appeared to be feeling uncomfortable.  Long, awkward, and even painful minutes passed.  Finally, Bishop Kim said to the Holy Father, “On this matter, I will report to Your Holiness after lunch.” 

After the lunch, Bishop Kim was with the Holy Father and made the report for about one hour.  The Holy Father listened very intently.  After the report, the Holy Father made a happy smile despite his weak health and embraced Bishop Kim’s shoulders.  He also told Bishop Kim that he would give a proper instruction to the proper officials. 

After I heard the above from Bishop Kim, I felt that the official approval of Naju was near.  If it was not an official approval by the Church in Korea yet, at least a re-investigation would begin soon, I thought.  It was extremely encouraging good news.

After the Kwangju Archdiocese announced the negative declaration on Naju on January 1, 1998, the clergy in the Kwangju Archdiocese repeatedly claimed that the decision was made in close consultation with the Holy See.  What happened during the Korean Bishops’ ad limina visit in 2001 clearly shows that the Pope had been bypassed in the process of reaching the negative decision on Naju.  It rather shows that the Korean Bishops were not successful in being faithful to the instructions or advices from the Pope and, therefore, were not able to answer his important question.  It also shows that Pope John Paul II was not accepting the Kwangju declaration of January 1, 1998 as the final word on Naju.          

May 2001:  One and a half months after the Korean Bishops’ ad limina visit to the Vatican, several ladies in Los Angeles made a pilgrimage trip to Italy.  While in Rome, they watched a special TV program on the Eucharistic miracle in the Vatican on October 31, 1995 and other miracles in Naju.  These ladies were astonished and became filled with joy, as they had already been to Naju several times.  Then, they went to San Giovanni Rotondo, the shrine of St. Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio), and Monte Sant’Angelo, a shrine of St. Michael the Archangel, located about 6 miles east of San Giovanni Rotondo.  While they were entering a church above the Archangel’s Cave, they were astonished again, because they saw large photographs and explanations in Italian of the Eucharistic miracle in the Vatican on October 31, 1995 displayed in the lobby of the church.  There also were displays about Lanciano and other Eucharistic miracles that were already officially approved by the Church.  The Italian guide told the American ladies that such displays and the TV program would have been impossible without the Holy See’s permission, as the Holy Father was directly involved in their contents.  I think that these displays and TV program were direct fruits of the Holy Father’s instruction to the proper Congregations, which Bishop Kim told me about on March 31, 2001.  I also believe that all the above-mentioned events, when linked together, clearly indicate that Pope John Paul II was actually recognizing the validity of the Eucharistic miracle in the Vatican that he had personally witnessed on October 31, 1995.  This papal action also was a powerful invitation and instruction to the Korean Church leaders to stop neglecting to directly face the Naju question and to open an honest re-investigation of Naju as soon as possible, and to approve it if the findings are positive, and to build a beautiful shrine for the benefit of all Asians and the whole Catholic Church.  The Korean Church, as we know, has not taken any such action yet.  We only still hear the loud voices of the modernist clergy who continue criticizing Naju, saying that Naju exaggerates personal sins while ignoring the sins of the society, unnecessarily draws people’s attention to Christ’s Passion and their need for penance, exaggerates the Marian devotion drawing more criticisms from the Protestants, spreads superstitious claims regarding the Holy Eucharist further alienating the Protestant brethren, is too loyal to the Pope, and so on.  It seems that (1) the true reformation of the Church in Korea (a true repentance about its deep-rooted errors and abuses and a genuine return to the authentic Catholic Teachings and Tradition, which also includes full unity with the Holy See and harmony with other particular churches in the world), on the one hand, and (2) the official recognition of Naju, on the other, can only come together, as the current progressive sentiments and ambitions in the Korean Church and what Naju stands for are not compatible with each other.  We believe that the messages and signs in Naju are Heaven’s challenge and warning, as well as opportunity and aid, to the Church in Korea and the world in this age.

In the area of ecumenical movement, as Bishop Paul Kim of the Cheju diocese (now, retired) stated during his speech at the Vox Populi Mediatrici meeting in Rome, Italy, on June 1, 1997 after his long experience in that area, I believe that true unity with our separated brethren can come not from shrinking from the authentic Catholic teachings and traditions but from clearly and faithfully witnessing to these teachings and traditions.  The unity that stands on human compromises and appeasements will be a false one.  The unity that stands on God’s Truth and Will alone will be true. 

Likewise, in solving the current problems concerning Naju, the answer is not to be found in accommodating to those modernist priests who want to continue the liberal reformation of the Church (which means erosion of the authentic Catholic Faith).  Neither will the answer be found in our losing spirit and will because of the continuing persecutions and attacks by the opponents of Naju and of the Church, whose only goal seems to be to defeat Naju and to move further away from the authentic Catholic Faith.  Strong counteractions against the heretical errors and abuses and strong defenses of the authentic Catholic Faith are the only true solutions to the question of Naju and the many difficulties in the universal Church.  What God wills and what the Blessed Mother wants to achieve in obedience to God is not about any parochial interests and concerns of some individuals or regions but about the genuine reformation of the whole Catholic Church and the powerful revitalization of the evangelizing efforts for the whole world.  Naju may even be the divine work of preparing for the Second Pentecost, which the Blessed Mother has mentioned several times in Naju.

This November, all the Korean Bishops will be back in the Vatican on their ad limina visit.  It seems that it can be an excellent opportunity for the Holy Father and the Cardinals and Bishops at the Holy See to have a serious talk about Naju with the Korean Bishops and advise and encourage them to adopt some solid measures that will produce real fruits, which, in turn, can set in motion a powerful revitalization of the Church and evangelization of the world according to the Lord’s and the Blessed Mother’s plan

Benedict Sang M. Lee
September 11, 2007

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