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Thousands line streets to bid cardinal adieu

Mourners highlight Stephen Kim’s humanity and spiritual leadership  PLAY AUDIO

Feb 21,2009
The public bids a tearful farewell to the late Cardinal Stephen Kim Sou-hwan yesterday at Myeongdong Cathedral, central Seoul. By Kim Do-hoon
Despite the drizzle and the cold winds, they came in the thousands to bid farewell to Cardinal Stephen Kim Sou-hwan, who passed away last Monday.

More than 10,000 mourners lined the streets around Myeongdong Cathedral in central Seoul, where the funeral Mass for Korea’s much-loved spiritual leader was held yesterday morning.

Some packed into the nearby restaurants to keep warm, their faces seen through the glass windows.

Many bowed their heads in prayer or simply in memory of a man whose death has left the country grieving.

They watched the service on four giant television screens that had been installed outside the cathedral, while inside, 800 clerics and invited dignitaries, including high-ranking government officials, lawmakers and ambassadors paid their last respects.

And when a short video clip of Kim was broadcast on the screen at the end of the Mass, many of the mourners wept.

The service was the culmination of a three-day mourning period during which time more than 400,000 people visited Myeongdong Cathedral, from Feb. 17 to 19, where Korea’s first cardinal lay in a glass casket.

Pope Benedict XVI appointed Cardinal Nicholas Cheong Jin-suk to lead the two-hour funeral Mass in the cathedral on his behalf.

“Cardinal Kim was a light and hope for society,” Cheong said.

“He was not only a Catholic, but also an apostle of love and peace for all Koreans. He had suffered ill health until his passing, but he did not lose his smile and his sense of humanity. His last words were ‘Thank you for your love’ with a request for people to ‘love and forgive.’

“People should keep his words in their hearts and try to love and forgive others ... We pray for his eternal and peaceful rest in the world of God,” Cheong continued.

Four other memorial addresses were made. Prime Minister Han Seung-soo made a farewell speech on behalf of President Lee Myung-bak, and Cardinal Osvaldo Padilla, an Apostolic Nuncio of Korea, delivered a eulogy.

“The cardinal stood not only for Catholics, but also for the sick, the poor and the weak. During the country’s industrialization era, he stood on the side of neglected labor workers. He also stood on the side of people who wanted democratization in Korea by withstanding pressure from [dictatorial] regimes,” Han said.

Han added the late cardinal sternly spoke up whenever he witnessed injustice and corruption, guiding the country to walk a righteous path.

Cardinal Osvaldo Padilla said the pope and the world’s Catholic communities were “deeply saddened to learn of his death.”

“As a priest and spiritual leader, he has been a faithful and provident pastor, or in his own words to the Apostolic Nuncio, ‘a humble servant,’ of the flock entrusted to his care.

“He dedicated himself fully to the spiritual and material well-being of his people. He has been a staunch defender of life, human rights, democracy, freedom and justice. He shared the joys and sorrows of his people, to whom he has been a beacon of light, of hope and peace. As cardinal emeritus, he has been an edifying example of joy and optimism in his own trust in the love of God,” Cardinal Padilla said.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Seoul’s Father Huh Young-yeop, in charge of media relations for the funeral Mass, said Kim didn’t have any personal belongings inside the casket, except an old rosary that Kim wished to keep with him.

People who wanted to see the late Kim’s cedar casket being carried to a black hearse thronged outside the mourning hall hours before the ceremony.

“I got here at 7 a.m. because I wanted to secure a spot closest to the mourning hall so I can say my prayers for him close by,” said Han Sun-hi, a 62-year-old Catholic.

“I tried hard to fight back the tears, but they rushed to my eyes when I saw the casket of Cardinal Kim being carried to the black hearse,” Han added.

Han wasn’t alone. Many started to cry when the hearse carrying Kim’s body started its journey to the Catholic Priest’s Cemetery in Yongin, Gyeonggi, Kim’s final resting place.

Many waved at the hearse and took photographs as it slowly pulled out of the parking lot at the cathedral.

The hearse arrived at the cemetery in Yongin at around 1:15 p.m where cathedral officials lowered the coffin into the grave.

The headstone reads, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.’’




By Kang In-sik JoongAng Ilbo/Kim Mi-ju Staff Reporter [mijukim@joongang.co.kr]


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