'God Gave Us Six Weapons for the New Evangelization'
Interview with Bishop Vincent Ri Pyung-ho of South Korea
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By Jan Bentz
VATICAN CITY, OCT. 26th 2012 (Zenit.org). – Bishop Vincent Ri Pyung-ho is the only Korean bishop (along with a lay Korean Auditor) from his country. Since 1990, he has served as bishop of the Diocese of Jeonju. A member of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea (CBCK) and specialized in Biblical studies, Bishop Ri also serves as chairperson of the Episcopal Commission for Social Affairs and the Committee for the Pastoral Care of Koreans Living Abroad of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea (CBCK). Also he is member of the Special Episcopal Commission to Promote Beatification and Canonization of the CBCK.
ZENIT: Your Excellency, would you be so kind as to introduce yourself to our readers?
Bishop Vincent Ri Pyung-ho: The Bishops Conference of Korea appointed me responsible of “New Evangelization” for a special committee. This is the reason, why I was chosen as a representative for Korea to participate in this Synod.
ZENIT: What is the biggest tool for the New Evangelization in Korea?
Bishop Vincent Ri Pyung-ho: The most important thing for the New Evangelization is the “Evangelium”, the Gospel. Everything must be founded on the basis of this Evangelium, on this principle. I’ve been in charge of the Biblical committee of the Bishops Conference of Korea and participated in the last Synod as a specialist for that. In the last Synod we have heard, as it was repeated in this Synod oftentimes, that the basis for the New Evangelization is the Word of God. By the power of this word and of the Gospel you are ready to do anything for the Church and the Society. If you do not have this, then no matter what good you want to do, you are without foundation. Everything stands on this principle.
ZENIT: What do you see as the biggest obstacle to the New Evangelization in Korea? Is it the Secularization from the West?
Bishop Vincent Ri Pyung-ho: The Secularization is certainly present. Nevertheless Korea has never been in a situation of non-secularization. In comparison with other parts of the world, for the Church in Korea the impact of secularization is relatively little. We have in every moment in history certain special obstacles to the spreading of the faith. But no matter how large the obstacles are, the fundamental question is: are you really armored with the weapons that the Lord gives us? In the Letter to the Ephesians, the Lord gives us six weapons. Of the six, one is offensive, the others are defensive. The one offensive is: the word of God, which is described as a [two-edged] sword. We can also read this in the story of the temptation. I believe that if you have this weapon, you have no reason to be afraid.
ZENIT: What impressed you most during this Synod?
Bishop Vincent Ri Pyung-ho: In line with what I have been saying, for me the most impressive presentation came from those, who have presented well the working of the Word of God. It is not a question of a cerebral or intellectual approach. If the Word of God really lives in your heart, then everything in your personal life will be ready.