Catholic Mass for the release of Jesuit Priest Lee Young-Chan and for the realization of the Island of Peace, Jeju on November 9 at Jesuits Korea Center in Seoul. Image: Seo Kyung-Ryeol

“Jesuits Korea have dispatched several Jesuits members to Gangjeong village to protect peace and justice and preserve natural heritage, where its community has been destroyed and endangered due to the construction of naval base. In March 2012 Fr. Kim Jeong-Wook was arrested and imprisoned for 30 days. Br. Park Do-Hyun and Fr. Kim Sung-Hwan are facing trials. Fr. Lee Young-Chan has been arrested and detained since October 26.”


On Oct. 30 the Justice and Peace Committee of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea( also issued a statement calling for the release of Fr. Lee.


Reactions in the Catholic Church

On Oct. 30 the Justice and Peace Committee of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea( issued a statement calling for the release of Fr. Lee. The statement gives the reasons for the Catholic Church demanding that construction of the naval base should be stopped.

“First, the process of seeking the agreement of the Gangjeong residents did not utilize a democratic procedure. Second, construction is destroying the coastal ecosystem and natural treasures such as the Gureombi Rock. Third, it looks like this project can only increase the sense of military tension in the Korean peninsula and N.E. Asia and thereby instigate a crisis.”

The statement also cites the fact that a national audit carried out by the Korean Congress showed that the construction billed as a “Government-civilian joint tourism harbor” was from the start impossible and a mere cover-up for a exclusive naval base plan. It also refers to procedural illegalities that have shown up in the processes of site selection and construction. The committee states clearly “We want the immediate release of Fr. Lee Young-chan and the peace activists, and the end of the national authorities’ use of violence at Gangjeong Village in Jeju.”

The Korean Province of the Society of Jesus ( held an expanded consultation on 1 Nov and officially stated its position on 5 Nov. The statement cites the call issued by several general congregations of the Jesuits for Jesuit members to engage in struggles for justice, and work for reconciliation. The most recent 35th General Congregation states “We now want to deepen our understanding of the call to serve faith, promote justice, and dialogue with culture and other religions in the light of the apostolic mandate to establish right relationships with God, with one another, and with creation.” (Decree 3, art. 12) The Korean Province statement thanks Fr. Lee for his dedicated service and solidarity for promoting justice and peace, and promises him positive support for his action. It promises continued material and emotional support to the Jesuits engaged in the action at Gangjeong Village, and desires that this problem have more of an international dimension. “With the understanding that this problem is international in scope we will spread awareness of it and join in close solidarity with the Jesuits of North America and also to our own region, the Jesuits of the Asia-Pacific.”

( Source from the  facebook of Jesuits Korea)

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