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PILGRIMS TO NAJU NEED NOT WORRY ABOUT THE THREAT OF EXCOMMUNICATION


 

The Kwangju Archdiocese’s Declaration
issued on January 1, 1998

The Declaration on Naju issued in the name of Archbishop Victorinus Yoon of the Kwangju Archdiocese in Korea condemned the reported supernatural revelations in Naju, (1) because the alleged miraculous changes of the Eucharistic species of bread and wine into lumps of bleeding flesh contradicted the Church teaching that says that the species of bread and wine must remain unchanged even after the priest’s consecration and (2) also because the alleged miraculous descents of the Eucharist from above violated the Church teaching that says that the Eucharist can begin to exist only through the consecration by the validly-ordained priests.

That the above-mentioned doctrinal assertions by the Kwangju Archdiocese in its Declaration were incorrect and were distortions of the true Church teachings has been pointed out by many priests and laypeople inside and outside Korea.  These are also understood to be among the key doctrinal and theological issues concerning Naju that are being examined by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the Vatican.  The arguments raised against the Kwangju Archdiocese’s doctrinal presentations are summarized as follows:

(1)  The official Church doctrine on the Eucharist only says that the priest’s consecration of bread and wine accomplishes changes in the substances of bread and wine into the substances of the Body and Blood of Our Lord without causing any changes in the external appearances of bread and wine (Council of Trent, DS #1652).  This teaching is not the same as saying that the species of bread and wine must (continue to) remain unchanged even after the priest’s consecration.  The authentic Church doctrine says nothing that precludes God’s special and miraculous intervention to remove the cover of the appearances of bread and wine to reveal the inner reality of the Eucharist, which is the Real Presence of Our resurrected, living Lord.  If the Church doctrine really meant that the Eucharistic species of bread and wine must remain unchanged even after the consecration, even the natural changes in the Eucharist in the communicant’s body and the gradual loss of freshness of the consecrated hosts during the preservation inside tabernacles would have to be condemned as violations of the Church teaching.   The distorted versions of the Church teaching presented by the Kwangju Archdiocese rule out the possibility of God’s working miracles for the purpose of strengthening our faith, violating the teaching on the miracles by the First Vatican Council in 1869-1870 (DS #3009 & 3034), and also condemn all of the Eucharistic miracles in Church history.

 

(2)   The authentic Church doctrine on the exclusivity of the priests’ power of Eucharistic consecration simply teaches that the validly-ordained priests only, to the exclusion of the lay people and the clergy of other communities without valid ordination, have been entrusted with the power to consecrate bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Our Lord during the Mass (Lateran Council VI, DS #802).  This doctrine was promulgated to counter the Waldensian heresy in the 13th Century, which rejected the ordained priesthood and advocated the general priesthood.  If the Kwangju Archdiocese’s doctrinal assertion were correct, all of the miraculous Communions in Church history would have to be condemned. 

Based on these incorrect doctrinal assertions, the Kwangju Archdiocese’s Declaration prohibited promotion of the information about Naju and the religious celebrations at any places associated with Julia Kim.

 

The Kwangju Archdiocese’s Decree
issued on January 21, 2008

In 2001, Archbishop Andrew Choi was installed as the successor to Archbishop Victorinus Yoon in the Kwangju Archdiocese.  As the new Ordinary of the Archdiocese, Archbishop Choi issued several additional Declarations and pastoral letters to persuade and coerce the faithful to accept and obey the first Declaration on Naju issued by his predecessor.  His repeated efforts, however, did not stop the flow of pilgrims to Naju or the propagation of information about Naju.  During the Korean Bishops’ recent ad limina visit to the Holy See (November/December, 2008), Archbishop Choi was advised by the Bishops and priests at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to accept Naju and was also strongly urged to accept Naju by Cardinal Ivan Dias, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, according to Archbishop Choi’s own testimony to several priests after his return from Rome.  The infamous video tape produced by MBC TV, a commercial TV network in Seoul, filled with false rumors and accusations against Naju and Julia, was presented to the Holy See by Archbishop Andrew Choi during the ad limina visit, but the officials at the Holy See were unimpressed by this prejudiced video made by a secular company at the instigation and assistance of the radical liberal priests in the Kwangju Archdiocese.  After the ad limina visit, there was some hope that Archbishop Choi might begin taking measures to comply with the guidance of the Holy See, but soon he was again overwhelmed by the powerful liberal priests in his diocese.  On January 21, 2008, less than two months after the Archbishop’s return from the Vatican, the Decree on Naju was issued in the name of Archbishop Choi.  The contents of this Decree were brief and blunt:  (1) Anyone, not only those within the Kwangju Archdiocese but any clergy, religious, or lay people in the world, who visit Naju would be subject to automatic excommunication, and (2) Fr. Aloysius Chang, who had been firm in defending Naju, was excardinated from the Kwangju Archdiocese.  In other words, Fr. Chang was expelled from the Archdiocese.  Then, copies of this Decree were mailed all over the world.  Numerous people became fearful of being excommunicated, and canceled their plans to visit Naju. It appeared as though this Decree, which apparently was the last resort for the Kwangju Archdiocese in its effort to put an end to Naju, finally succeeded.

 

Fr. Aloysius Chang appealed to the Holy See

 

After receiving a copy of the Decree from Archbishop Andrew Choi, Fr. Aloysius Chang immediately wrote a petition to the Archbishop to reconsider his case and remove the penalty of excardination from him.  Archbishop Choi promptly replied refusing Fr. Chang’s petition.  Then, Fr. Chang prepared extensive legal documents necessary for making an Appeal to the Apostolic Tribunal in the Vatican with the help of a lawyer.  On February 12, 2008, he was on an airplane to Rome.  At the Fiumicino International Airport in Rome, he was joined by me, as I arrived in Rome a few hours earlier from Oregon, the United States, to function as Fr. Chang’s interpreter.

The next day, Fr. Chang and I visite the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Congregation for the Clergy, and the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.  We were warmly received at all three Congregations.  It was comforting to learn that the Bishops and priests in those Congregations had already been well informed about the situation in Naju and were especially sympathetic to Fr. Chang who had been unjustly punished by his Bishop.  They advised us that the office in the Holy See most competent to handle the Naju case was not the Apostolic Tribunal but the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, which is responsible for the pastoral guidance and supervision of the Church in Korea.  So, we presented copies of the legal documents to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Congregation for the Clergy and presented the original documents to the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.  Thus, Fr. Aloysius Chang’s Appeal against the Kwangju Archdiocese’s Decree was formally received by the Holy See within 30 days from the day the Decree had been issued.  On February 16, 2008, Saturday, we were allowed an audience with His Eminence Cardinal Ivan Dias, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, who had just returned from a trip to China.  During the audience, His Eminence said that Fr. Chang’s case could be promptly resolved, but the overall Naju question would take more time.  His Eminence asked us not to worry at all, to be patient and always happy, and to pray harder with firm trust in the Blessed Mother so that she could remove the remaining obstacles (to the official Church recognition of Naju).  Then, His Eminence gave us a blessing.  We were so grateful and encouraged.  We relayed the good news to Julia and the volunteer helpers in Naju.

 

Cardinal Ivan Dias sent a letter to Archbishop Andrew Choi suspending the application of the Archbishop’s Decree

Several months later, in July 2008, we were informed by a Bishop (We are not at liberty to reveal his name at this time), who had visited the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and asked about the situation concerning Naju, and learned that Cardinal Dias had sent an official letter to the Kwangju Archbishop regarding Naju, which contained the following information:

As what has been happening in Naju is considered a private revelation, the restrictions do not apply to the pilgrims to Naju.  Likewise, the penalties on Fr. Aloysius Chang should be lifted.  Fr. Chang can celebrate Mass.

Thus, the Cardinal was informing the Kwangju Archdiocese that the penalties mentioned its Decree could not be applied.  Therefore, the faithful who consider visiting Naju need not worry about the threat of excommunication any longer and, also, Fr. Aloysius Chang is not to be expelled from his diocese and can continue his priestly functions.  Of course, Cardinal Dias was not making the final decision on Naju, as this decision will be made by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith after the completion of its examination of the doctrinal and theological issues involved in the Naju case.  Nevertheless, the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples is the highest pastoral authority, under the Pope, over all of the mission territories in the world including Korea.  There is no doubt that Cardinal Dias has the legitimate power and authority to represent the Holy See in issuing pastoral advices and instructions which are binding on the Bishops in Korea. 

The Kwangju Archdiocese, however, has not made the letter from the Holy See public yet, leaving the priests and lay people in Korea and other countries in darkness, unaware of the extremely important letter from Cardinal Dias, and still believing that the Kwangju Archbishop’s Decree against the pilgrims to Naju and Fr. Aloysius Chang remains valid.  The Kwangju Archdiocese is misleading the priests and the laity all over the world and is being negligent and disobedient toward the instructions from the Holy See.

Archbishop Andrew Choi of Kwangju did make a pastoral visit to the Blessed Mother’s Chapel and Mountain in Naju on July 2, 2008, accompanied by several priests and lay people.  While visiting Naju, the Archbishop was kind to the pilgrims and volunteer helpers and even said, “I have not prohibited prayers,” and “Receive abundant graces from the Holy Spirit.”  Those who heard the Archbishop were surprised and amazed, because his words were the total opposite of what was stated in his Decree, which threatened the pilgrims with automatic excommunication and expelled Fr. Aloysius Chang from the Archdiocese of Kwangju.  We could interpret the Archbishop’s surprise visit and remarks as a gesture of diluting and weakening what he had said in the Decree and appearing to be making some efforts to comply with the instructions from the Holy See.  However, this Decree is a solemn, official document signed by the Archbishop of Kwangju and promulgated all over the world and, therefore, can only be formally and surely changed or cancelled by another official document signed by the Archbishop of Kwangju.  Cardinal Dias’ letter and Archbishop Choi’s visit and comments in Naju have not been reported by the Catholic media or in the Sunday bulletins in Korea, and, therefore, most people remain unaware of the important changes that have taken place regarding the status of the Archbishop’s Decree. 

 

Frustrated by the lack of compliance by the Kwangju Archdiocese, the Holy See decided that the Naju case would be handled by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which is the highest authority in the Church, under the Pope, over the doctrinal and theological issues including the case of Naju.  Both the Archbishop of Kwangju and Fr. Aloysius Chang were informed by the Apostolic Nunciature in Seoul that the work of examining Naju began at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in April 2008.  The Holy See had hoped that the Kwangju Archdiocese and the Korean Bishops’ Conference would willingly and genuinely comply with the guidance and instructions from the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, but had not seen such cooperation.  The expected announcement on Naju by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith will be directly binding on the local churches.  The Kwangju Archdiocese will have to make very clear to the whole world whether they will follow and obey the Holy See or remain defiant.

It is important to note that, even now while waiting for the announcement by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, there already are sufficient reasons for anyone who is thinking about a pilgrimage to Naju not to worry about the threat of automatic excommunication and to feel free to visit Naju as an individual or as a group of individuals. Also, even before Fr. Chang made his Appeal against the Decree, it was questionable that a diocesan Bishop had the authority to excommunicate people from other dioceses in the world.  A diocesan Bishop’s threat of automatic excommunication to anyone in the world who visits Naju seems to be a case of misuse of his ecclesiastical power.

 

The validity of the Declaration is also on hold

The Canon Law of the Church says:  “When there is a doubt of law, laws do not bind even if they be nullifying and disqualifying ones (Can. #14) and “An appeal suspends the execution of a sentence” (Can. #1638).

The fact that the Holy See is formally engaging itself in the investigation of the case of Naju ten years after the local diocese in Kwangju had already announced its negative decision on Naju implies that the Holy See is seriously concerned about the possibility of some problems in the local church’s investigation and judgment. This means that the Kwangju Archdiocese’s negative statements on Naju in its Declaration are no longer final or binding on the faithful with the normal force of the official documents in the Church.  In addition, it has already been pointed out by numerous priests and lay people worldwide that the Kwangju Archdiocese’s Declaration on Naju contains doctrinal errors regarding the Holy Eucharist as already indicated above.  No declarations, decrees, pastoral letters, or anything else written or uttered by any one can be valid, if they are in conflict with the truths and laws revealed by God and so confirmed by the Church. 

 

The essential role of the Blessed Mother for our salvation

A major stumbling block that has been preventing many people from correctly understanding and accepting the special revelations like those in Naju has been their misconceptions about the Blessed Mother and her essential role in God’s plan of human salvation.  Of course, Mary is not another savior or equal to the Savior.  She is a creature of God like us, but was chosen and prepared by God so that she could be worthy of the extremely noble position and difficult role as the Mother of our Savior, God the Son; the Mother of the Church; and the true spiritual Mother of all the followers of her Divine Son.  There are some people who call Mary the Mother of Jesus but refuse to call her the Mother of God.  But did St. Elizabeth, Mary’s cousin, not already call her “the Mother of my Lord?” (Luke 1:43).  No one other than God Himself can be our Lord.  Refusing to recognize Mary as the Mother of God is self-contradictory, because doing so would be the same as denying that Jesus is God the Son, Who took the human nature for the purpose of suffering in reparation for our sins and saving us.  To say that the divine Jesus and the human Jesus can be two distinguishable persons, is to deny the true Incarnation of God the Son in the human world as true God and true Man.  It is the most fundamental Catholic teaching that, in Christ, there are two natures: divine and human, united in one Divine Person.  As Christ has both the true Divinity and the true humanity, everything He did on earth had a truly human dimension as well as a divine dimension with infinite value.  Every time we call Mary the Mother of God, we are reminding ourselves of the fact that Jesus, the Son of God and the Son of Mary, was truly divine and human.  By honoring Mary as the Mother of God we are confirming our faith in the Divinity of the Savior (and His Humanity).  This is an example of how our honoring Mary necessarily leads us to correctly understand and worship Jesus.

We also need to understand that God’s work of human salvation is to be accomplished not just through the interaction between God and us as individuals but also through the interaction between God and His people as a group, which is the Church.  Of course, we can pray to God as individuals at any time.  At the Judgment time, each of us will be judged individually.  At the same time, we necessarily belong to groups or societies beginning with our families and, of course, the Church.  In revealing His Truths and Commandments, God does not deal with individuals separately but to the whole of His people, even if He uses individual agents.  Only this way, the authenticity and purity of His teachings as well as the unity and order in managing the Church affairs can be maintained.  Regarding how to interpret the revealed truths from God, how to celebrate the liturgy of the Mass, how to administer the Sacraments, and so on in the Church, individuals are not to rely on their own opinions and preferences but should be obedient to the shepherds in the Church.  The hierarchy of the officially-installed shepherds in the Church provides the Church with a coherent leadership as well as unity and stability.  Without it, the body will collapse and disperse.

The Church is also God’s Family, in which we are His children.  With His infinite Goodness and Wisdom, God gave a Mother to this Family not only for the Savior Who would be born and grow like other human children but also for all other children like us who are exposed to numerous dangers and difficulties on the road to eternal salvation.  We can easily imagine how dry and desolate a family will be, if it lacks a mother.  Because the Church, God’s Family, has a Mother, who is most loving, caring, attentive, and merciful and is most powerful as the advocate for us before God as the Daughter of God the Father, the Mother of God the Son, and the Spouse of the God the Holy Spirit, the probability of our attaining salvation is immeasurably enhanced.  We should give our most profound gratitude to God the Father for giving this Mother to us, who are desperately in need of the motherly help that is stronger than all the dangers and difficulties that threaten us.

Some people may think that they are adults and do not need the Mother’s help, but Our Lord said that, unless we become like a child, we cannot enter the Kingdom of God.

The messages and miraculous signs in Naju call for the restoration of discipline in our life in the Church

The Church is not just an assembly of believers but truly the Mystical Body of Christ established by Christ Himself two thousand years ago and with the full reality of Our Lord’s Real Presence, Teachings of the Truths and Commandments, and Divine Authority as well as the Holy Spirit’s healing, enlightening, and sanctifying power.  Through Baptism, we become members of this Church and begin growing spiritually with the graces from God.  Our duties as members of the Church are to adhere faithfully to the Lord’s teachings and diligently put them into practice to sanctify our own souls and help our neighbors also know and love God and be saved.

The difficulty that we often experience in carrying out our duties is that, because of our own frailty as a consequence of the original sin, distractions and stresses from the world, and attacks and temptations of the devils, our intellect can become dull and confused, our will can become weak, and our discipline can become lax, unless we make diligent efforts to counter the negative influences.   To bear good fruits, it is essential that our efforts be aided by the supernatural graces from God, which we receive through prayers and the Sacraments.

Especially in those times when human failures in adhering to the truths and moral uprightness accumulate and become widespread to the extent that a major crisis develops in the Church and the world, God may send us urgent messages and signs through the Blessed Mother, other Saints, or the Angels to warn and assist us for the purpose of rescuing us from the disaster.

Especially in recent years, the special interventions by God in the flow of human history have intensified as in Guadalupe, Mexico, in 1531; to Sister Margaret Mary Alacoque in France in the 17th Century; to Sister Catherine Labouré in Paris, France, in 1830; to Bernadette Soubirous in Lourdes, France, in 1858; to three children in Fatima, Portugal, in 1917; and to Sister Agnes Sasakawa in Akita, Japan in 1973.

In Naju, Korea, since 1985, powerful messages and signs from Our Lord and Our Lady have been focused on our need for urgent conversions and reparations for the sins that have been spreading like a terrible cancer all over the world.  More specifically, the messages and signs in Naju call for the restoration of the Eucharistic devotion, the Marian devotion, the unity with and obedience to the Pope, respect and prayers for the priests, the end to abortions, love and forgiveness beginning in families, and humility and self-denial by all.  Among all these, the central focus has been on the Holy Eucharist, as it is the center of the whole Catholic Faith and our life in the Church.  The current crisis of widespread neglect, indifference, disbelief, and carelessness toward the Holy Eucharist is the greatest evil jeopardizing our life in the Church.

So far, the Eucharist received by Julia Kim miraculously changed into visible Flesh and Blood on her tongue twelve times.  In addition, the Eucharist that came down from above bled twice, not in Julia’s mouth but in a ciborium.  These repeated miracles along with the messages from Our Lord and Our Lady are powerful calls for us to deepen our faith in the Eucharist and amend our attitude toward the Eucharist, which is Our Resurrected, Living Lord.  Below are a few practical suggestions.

a.      The Eucharist looks and tastes like bread and wine, but is truly Our Lord’s Body and Blood.  It is not lifeless flesh and blood, but Christ’s Real Presence in the fullest sense with His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.  Our Lord in the Eucharist comes to us to be with us in the most intimate way and to sanctify us by cleansing us from sins (Note: Any sins more serious than venial sins need to be repented and confessed in the Sacrament of Penance first) and all the disorderly distractions about the world.  Martin Luther said that the Eucharist was Our Lord’s Body and Blood and real bread and wine at the same time.  This was rejected as a serious error by the Church.  When we receive Communion, we need to repel all doubts and coldness from our minds and hearts and fill them with true contrition over our sins and with our love, obedience, and gratitude to God.

b.     We need to be deeply aware of Our Lord’s Real Presence whenever we are in a church where the Eucharist is preserved.  If we are truly aware of the Lord’s Presence, we will be more prayerful and respectful, will refrain from gossiping, laughing, vainly looking around at other people, and wearing immodest clothes, and will genuflect (or bow) most humbly and devotedly before the tabernacle. 

c.      According to the Canon Law (#919), a fasting of one hour is required before receiving Communion.  Plain water and necessary medicine are exceptions, and the sick and the old may be exempted.  It is disturbing to know that, in some areas, this law is often ignored.  Dispensation from the Eucharistic fast can be obtained only from the Bishop (The Code of Canon Law, A Text and Commentary, Paulist Press, 1985, p. 655).

d.     I was baptized together with other catechumens at Kyesan Cathedral in Taegu, Korea in 1964.  Before receiving Baptism and First Communion, we were told by the catechist not to chew the Eucharist when we receive Communion but to hold the Eucharist in the mouth until it becomes soft and tender with the moisture in the mouth and, then, swallow the Eucharist.  The priest is an exception, probably because the host used in the Mass is large and will take longer to melt.  I do not know of any Church law regarding chewing the Eucharist, but it seems that, out of our respect and care as well as adoration toward Our Lord, we should refrain from chewing the Eucharist and humbly and lovingly pray to Him.  In addition, those who receive Communion in their hands would do well by examining if any particles of the Eucharist remain in the hands, as the Church doctrine says, “When either consecrated species is divided the Whole Christ is present in each part of the species” (Council of Trent, DS: #1653) 

 

Benedict Sang M. Lee
June 17, 2009

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