Thousands of Catholic priests and believers congratulated Seoul’s new archbishop Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, who became the 14th appointed in the metropolitan city Monday.
Last month, the Vatican named Yeom the new archbishop of Seoul. Yeom replaces outgoing Cardinal Nicholas Cheong Jin-suk, who retired from the top post of the Seoul Archdiocese earlier in the month. Korea has six archbishops.
At the ceremony, Yeom, 68, said he feels the burden of the responsibility of leading the country’s largest diocese, but vowed to help the struggling.
“We need to keep the dignity of human life in a society that takes life lightly. The church will fight for that,” said Archbishop Yeom during the inaugural mass.
The Seoul Archdiocese held the inaugural ceremony for the new archbishop on June 25 ― the 62nd anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War ― to pray for the unification of the two Koreas. The archbishop of Seoul also serves as apostolic administrator of Pyongyang.
The inaugural Mass was attended by Cardinal Cheong, Culture Minister Choe Kwang-shik, Vatican Envoy Osvaldo Padilla, political leaders including former opposition leader Sohn Hak-kyu, Rep. Kang Ki-gap and Gyeonggi Governor Kim Moon-soo.
Park In-joo, presidential secretary for social integration, and Minister for Special Affairs Goh Heung-gil also attended the ceremony.
After the ceremony, Yeom leaves for Rome to meet with Pope Benedict XVI. On Friday, the Pope will confer the pallium on Archbishop Yeom, the symbol of the authority of a metropolitan archbishop.
Yeom will lead the Seoul diocese which has 27 percent of the Catholics in the country. Catholics account for 10.3 percent of the total population, or 5.3 million people, according to the latest statistics.