A large crowd gathers to see Pope Francis at a ceremony to beatify 124 Korean martyrs in Gwangwhamun, downtown Seoul, Saturday. An estimated 1 million Catholics and citizens attended it. / Joint Press Corps
By Kwon Mee-yoo and Baek Byung-yeul
Pope Francis celebrated Mass on Sunday at the Haemieupseong Fortress near the Haemi Martyrdom Holy Ground in Seosan, South Chungcheong Province, as the 6th Asia Youth Day drew to a close.
There, the pontiff addressed some 6,000 young Catholic delegates from 23 countries and 45,000 local Catholics, emphasizing that young Asian Christians must wake up and seek to serve the poor like Jesus.
"Young people of Asia, you are the heirs of a great testimony, a precious witness to Christ," the Pope said in English.
"Keep close to one another, draw ever closer to God, and with your bishops and priests spend these years in building a holier, more missionary and humble Church ― a Church which loves and worships God by seeking to serve the poor, the lonely, the infirm and the marginalized.
"It is my hope that, in union with Christ and the Church, you will take up this path, which will surely bring you much joy."
Built in 1491 during the Joseon period (1392-1910), the fortress was once a military base that protected the West Sea coast. Thousands of Catholics died martyrs' deaths there in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Earlier Sunday, Pope Francis emphasized that open minds and sincere hearts were necessary for authentic dialogue, during a meeting with 70 bishops from across Asia at the Haemi Martyrdom Holy Ground. Among them were 19 Koreans.
"A clear sense of one's own identity and a capacity for empathy are thus the point of departure for all dialogue," the pontiff said "Authentic dialogue also demands a capacity for empathy. We are challenged to listen not only to the words which others speak, but to the unspoken communication of their experiences, their hopes and aspirations, their struggles and their deepest concerns."
Father Hur Young-yup, spokesman for the Committee for the Papal Visit to Korea, said the meeting may have been brief, but it held great significance because it gave the Pope an opportunity to send a clear message to churches throughout Asia.
Bishop Peter Chung Soon-taek, Auxiliary Bishop of the Seoul Archdiocese, said it was the first time that such a large number of Asian bishops had gathered to talk with the pontiff.
"Pope Francis is breathing new life into the Catholic church and we now have a consensus that we should change as the Pope directed," Chung said. "The pontiff said the clergy should be humble, not hypocrites, yesterday. He has been living such a life and his words are more persuasive to us."
After the meeting, the Pope had lunch with the bishops at a cafeteria at the sacred site. The meal included Korean sirloin, steamed crab from Haemi and octopus rice porridge, served with white kimchi and salad. Wine and dessert followed.
Francis will conclude his five-day trip to Korea on Monday after celebrating a Mass for peace and reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula at the Myeongdong Cathedral in downtown Seoul.
Victims of Japanese military sexual slavery will attend. The Vatican had also invited Catholic believers from North Korea, but they declined the invitation.
Pope Francis will leave for Rome after a brief farewell ceremony at the Seoul Air Base at 12:45 p.m.