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Friday, April 20, 2007

Catholics pray during an April 19 Mass at the cathedral in Seoul, South Korea, in memory of the victims of the Virginia Tech massacre. CNS photo/Jo Yong-Hak, Reuters

South Korean church leaders offer
sympathy to Virginia Tech victims

SEOUL, South Korea (CNS) -- Catholic leaders in South Korea offered their condolences to the family members and victims of the recent shooting rampage at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va.

"We Korean bishops feel great shock and pain, especially (because) this incident was done by a Korean young man," the bishops' conference said in an April 18 statement obtained by UCA News, an Asian church news agency.

They also warned against the tragedy leading to further violence or revenge against innocent people in the U.S.

"It should not create ethnic conflicts or prejudice," said the bishops.

They said they regretted that they "couldn't fulfill (their) duty to help people realize the importance of life that God has given us as a gift."

In an April 19 letter to Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo of Richmond, Va., the diocese in which Blacksburg is located, Cardinal Nicholas Cheong Jinsuk of Seoul said that all Koreans, including Catholics, are "very much shocked and in deepest sorrow."

Calling the incident an "unimaginably horrible crime," Cardinal Cheong offered his condolences to all Americans, especially the bereaved families. He said he hopes that Americans and Koreans in the U.S. will be able to overcome the shocking tragedy.

A memorial Mass for the victims was held April 19 in Seoul's Myongdong Cathedral.

The Associated Press quoted Cardinal Cheong as saying at the Mass that people should work to prevent a recurrence of "such an unfortunate event."

"Among the 32 killed were bright students who could have contributed greatly to society, and it's a big loss for all of us," the AP quoted him as saying. "As a South Korean, I can't help feeling apologetic about how a Korean man caused such a shocking incident."

Cho Seung-Hui, a 23-year-old South Korean emigrant, killed 33 people, including himself, in a shooting rampage on the campus of Virginia Tech April 16. Cho grew up in Centreville, Va., where his family owns a dry-cleaning business. He moved with his family to the United States in 1992.

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun also sent a condolence message April 18 to U.S. President George W. Bush. In a statement the same day, the South Korean president said he hopes "Americans will overcome this great sorrow and difficulty and regain peace as soon as possible."


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