For years, the Korean bishops have been trying to stop the activities of would-be mystic Julia Kim (now Julia Youn) at Naju, Korea. She claimed to have a weeping statue of Our Lady; she claimed to suffer the stigmata; she claimed that the Eucharist turned into visible, bloody flesh in her mouth, including in 1995 when she received the Sacred Host from Pope John Paul II.
The Archdiocese of Kwangju issued several declarations against the claims of supernatural miracles in the case, and on January 21 of this year, the confrontation reached a decisive point when the Archbishop of Kwangju declared Youn and those who participate in her activities excommunicated for grave disobedience.
Although my sympathies are with the bishop, parts of the canonical decree seem odd: e.g., I’m not sure that canon law allows for a latae sententiae excommunication for the sort of disobedience the Archbishop cites. (E.g., see the SJF’s discussion of c1371.) On the other hand, the decree seems to treat adherence to Mrs. Youn’s claims as a matter of schism. Perhaps Pete Vere or Ed Peters (keeper of the “Excommunication Blotter“) will be able to clarify this for the good of the faithful.
A press report is on-line at Mirifica, and also follows after the jump…
UCAN (Union of Catholic Asian News) reports:
28 January 2008 – 16:36
Archbishop Declares Excommunication Against Julia Youn And Followers
SEOUL (UCAN) — The archbishop of Kwangju has declared that a woman and her followers who have insisted on so-called divine miracles centering around her have incurred latae sententiae excommunication.
Archbishop Andreas Choi Chang-mou issued the decree on Jan. 21, saying “for Christians’ healthy faith life, and the unity and communion of the Church, I declare as such, though my heart grieves.”
Latae sententiae means the excommunication is not imposed by judgment but automatically results from an action that places one outside the community of faith.
The archbishop explained that he met Youn, 60, and her husband in person in Naju in 2003 and later gave a final warning in 2005, but they have not modified their actions. “Rather, they speak as if the Holy Father approves them,” the bishop said. “They libel me, the Korean bishops and the Korean Church through their publications and the Internet.”
These actions prove “Julia Youn and her followers have no will to reconcile with the Catholic Church,” he said.
“Therefore those clergy, Religious and laity who preside at or participate in sacraments and liturgical ceremonies in their ‘arbitrarily-called chapel’ and ‘Marian shrine’ in Naju, which I have banned, incur automatic excommunication,” he declared, based on canons 1336 and 1364 of the Code of Canon Law.
According to the website created by Youn’s followers (www.najumary.or.kr), Youn has received Marian “revelations” since her statue of the Blessed Mother “started weeping” in 1985. After that, Youn and her followers established “Blessed Mother’s Mountain” in Naju, 285 kilometers south of Seoul.
However, the archdiocese issued directives in 1998, 2003 and 2005 banning Catholics from visiting and participating in ceremonies there. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea has explicitly supported the archdiocese.
Father John Chrysostomus Kim Kye-hong, chancellor of Kwangju archdiocese, sent the decree of excommunication to all dioceses in the country as well as to secular and Church media on Jan. 23.
In a related press release, he asked all dioceses to carry the decree in diocesan bulletins and websites to help prevent Catholics from “straying into a groundless and blind faith.”
Father Kim told UCA News on Jan. 24 that despite a televised news report in November 2007 refuting the authenticity of Youn’s miracle claims, people have continued to gather at Naju.
Youn and her followers “insist that the Holy See recognizes the miracles,” the chancellor said. “So now they are reaching beyond our archdiocese’s boundary, and making this the problem of the whole Church. That is the main reason for issuing the decree,” he explained.
Father Kim noted that Father Aloysius Chang Hong-bin, an archdiocesan priest who has supported Youn’s disobedience, had incurred automatic excommunication too. “Also in the decree he was excardinated (removed) from the archdiocese and lost his clerical state,” Father Kim elaborated, adding that “there was no consultation with the Vatican before issuing the decree, but we will send related materials.”
Meanwhile, even before the decree, Archbishop John Choi Young-soo of Daegu issued a pastoral letter on Jan. 13 appealing to his faithful not to visit or participate in liturgical ceremonies in Naju, which “is not Catholic but defames the Catholic Church.” He wrote that that “they collect much money and do superstitious activities like using or drinking Youn’s urine for a cure.”
Also, he asserted the Kwangju archbishop’s ban would never be repealed “even though some people spread a rumor that the Vatican may overrule it.” Archbishop Choi lamented that although his archdiocese too had issued directives several times on the matter, some priests and lay Catholics continuously visit Naju and support Youn.
Youn’s followers have responded to the excommunication decree by denouncing it as the “worst measure” and a “heretical error.” A Jan. 25 statement sent to UCA News insists that Archbishop Choi’s decree has nothing to do with the pope and the universal Catholic Church.
The statement from Peter Kim Jae-seok, public manager of Blessed Mother’s Mountain, added that the banning directives are fundamentally ineffective and the “Kwangju archbishop commits a crime by spreading such errors, abusing his power and threatening the faithful with such illegal punishment.”