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[Newsmaker]Peter Chung Soon-taick becomes new Catholic archbishop of Seoul

Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung (right) hands over a Baculus Pastoralis, a cane that symbolizes the Catholic archbishop, to the new archbishop of Seoul, Peter Chung Soon-taick, during an inaugural Mass at Myeongdong Cathedral in central Seoul on Wednesday. (Yonhap)
Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung (right) hands over a Baculus Pastoralis, a cane that symbolizes the Catholic archbishop, to the new archbishop of Seoul, Peter Chung Soon-taick, during an inaugural Mass at Myeongdong Cathedral in central Seoul on Wednesday. (Yonhap)
Peter Chung Soon-taick was officially installed as Seoul’s new Roman Catholic archbishop after an inaugural Mass at Myeongdong Cathedral in central Seoul on Wednesday.

The last inaugural Mass was held nine years ago, in 2012, when Bishop Andrew Yeom Soo-jung became the 13th archbishop of Seoul after the late Cardinal Nicholas Cheong Jin-suk retired from the post. In February 2014, Yeom was appointed as a cardinal and became South Korea’s third.

In October, Pope Francis appointed Chung, 60, as the new Catholic archbishop of Seoul and apostolic administrator of Pyongyang.

Around 80 bishops and presbyteral council members, as well as some 30 believers, entered Myeongdong Cathedral together to attend the Mass on Wednesday afternoon.

After Alfred Xuereb, the Holy See’s representative in Seoul, read Pope Francis’ letter appointing Chung as archbishop of Seoul, Chung signed a vow of obedience saying he would follow God’s will.

Cardinal Yeom then handed over a Baculus Pastoralis, a cane that symbolizes the Catholic archbishop, to Chung and also guided the archbishop to sit on a chair that symbolizes the authority of the Catholic archbishop of Seoul.

Since Wednesday is also the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, a Mass to celebrate the Virgin Mary’s conception without sin followed the inauguration.

Chung began his speech at the Mass by listing Yeom’s achievements and pledged to try to emulate the former archbishop’s achievements.

He then talked about some changes.

“I think that there is a task that we need to work on while praying and pondering together with all the people of God. We need to think about the role of the church that our society demands as we head toward the 2030s and how our archdiocese should respond to it,” he said.

Chung, priests and other participants in the Mass greeted each other by saying, “Peace be with you.”

An additional ceremony was held Wednesday to celebrate Chung’s new role.

During that ceremony, Xuereb, Mathias Lee Yong-hoon, president of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of Korea, and a representative of the priests and believers gave congratulatory speeches.

Also, Culture Minister Hwang Hee read a message of congratulations on behalf of President Moon Jae-in.

“I congratulate Bishop Peter Chung Soon-taick on being inaugurated as the 14th Catholic archbishop of Seoul. I rejoice with brothers and sisters for his being honorably inaugurated as the archbishop,” the message read. “When we face difficulties, you always have been our salt and light. Please pray for the restoration of normal life and peace.”

Born in 1961 in Daegu, Chung graduated from Seoul National University’s chemical engineering department in 1984. After graduating he became a student at the Catholic University of Korea. In 1986, he entered the Order of Discalced Carmelites.

After being ordained to the priesthood in 1992, he went to Rome in 2000, where he earned a master’s degree in sacred scripture at the Pontifical Biblical Institute.

Chung returned to Korea and was appointed as an auxiliary bishop for the Catholic Archdiocese of Seoul in 2013. He was consecrated as a bishop in 2014.

Until recently, Chung was president of the Committee for Youth Ministry of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea.

By Song Seung-hyun (ssh@heraldcorp.com)
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