Church leaders in Korea have opened causes for the beatification of more than 200 martyrs, including the former bishop of Pyongyang.
The causes involve two groups of people who died in persecutions: one
in the late 18th century, the other in the 20th century after the
Communist takeover of North Korea.
The latter group includes Bishop
Francis Hong Yong-ho, who was named apostolic vicar of Pyongyang in 1944
and formally appointed as bishop of the North Korean capital in 1962.
He was imprisoned in 1949, and subsequently disappeared. Finally in 2013
the Vatican acknowledged that he had died, probably in a prison camp,
although the date of his death remains unknown.
The list of candidates for martyrdom includes a number of foreign
missionaries, including an American, Bishop Patrick James Byrne, who
established the first Maryknoll mission in Korea in 1923.
He was seized
by North Korean government agents in 1950 and led on a forced march to
Pyongyang; during the march he contracted pneumonia and he died soon
The Korean bishops’ conference has been authorized by the Vatican to
organize the causes at the national rather than diocesan level.