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Korean bishops suggest beatification for prelate jailed by North Korean regime

April 26, 2013

The Catholic bishops of South Korea have asked the Vatican to open a cause for the beatification of Bishop Francis Hong Yong-ho of Pyongyang. But the suggestion will encounter complications immediately, since the Vatican has not yet acknowledged that the Korean prelate is dead.

Bishop Hong was appointed to head the Pyongyang diocese in 1962, at the age of 55. If he is alive today, he is more than 106 years old. But in fact Bishop Hong disappeared in 1962—the same year that he was appointed to head the newly created Pyongyang diocese—as the brutal regime of North Korean stepped up its persecution of the Church.

Official Vatican records still list Bishop Hong as the head of the only North Korean diocese, because it “cannot be excluded that he may still be a prisoner” in a concentration camp. The bishops of South Korea, reasoning that Bishop Hong surely died long ago, have called upon the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to regard him, along with other Catholics who died under persecution in North Korea, as a martyr for the faith.


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