Confession: Fidelity to God or Spiritual and Emotional Healing?

Resources »Eapr »East Asian Pastoral Review 2006 »Volume 43 2006 Number 1 »Confession Fidelity To God Or Spiritual And Emotional Healing

By Jong Rye Gracia Song, SPC

Jong Rye Gratia Song, S.P.C. from Korea earned an S. T. L. from the Angelicum in Rome and an S.T.D. from Weston School of Theology, Boston. In her studies in Christian Spirituality, her dissertation on Spirituality for Korean Catholic Women was entitled “Listening with the Heart to the Echo of Silenced Voices.” She teaches Women and Spirituality at the Graduate School of Culture and Spirituality in the Catholic University of Korea and works as a researcher for Catholic Women’s Research Institute, Korea. Her area of special interest is Catholic women in the 18th and 19th century Korea.


Significant characteristics of the religiosity of Catholic women in Korea are revealed chiefly through their devotions. In order to survive, Catholic Korean women in the strong Confucian patriarchal society of the 18th and 19th centuries needed some tangible instruments to channel their pain and suffering, as well as their hopes and desires, in petitions to the invisible God. To this end, they developed certain strong devotions and practices. They adopted concrete practices not dissimilar from those they had known in other Asian religious traditions before their conversion. They devoted themselves wholeheartedly to the many devotions of Catholicism, which seem to have soothed and healed their broken hearts. In addition to their many devotions, Korean women in the 19th century manifested a deep commitment to the practice of confession. Here comes the problem of how one should interpret the traditional and the New Testament’s affirmation in which it is clearly declared: Only in Jesus is salvation.

Confession and Devotion to the Eucharist

Catholics in 19th century Chosŏn dynasty1 eagerly embraced the practice of confession. It is not an exaggeration to say that the missionaries’ main work during the 19th century was hearing confessions;2they heard confessions before and after Mass and sometimes late into the night (Dallet 1980: chapter 3:211, 252-53, 345). Catholics had demonstrated a passion for confession from the very foundation of the Church in Korea. As early as 1786, during the period when there were no clergy, self-styled "priests,"3 among them Yi Sŭng-hun, Catholics confessed to each other (Dallet, 1:127). Fr. Chu (+1801) extolled the passion of Koreans for confession, which indicates that the practice of confession was common even before 1801.

During the period of persecution (1791-1876) when there were few priests, believers were so eager to make their confession that they did not give the missionaries time to learn Korean (Dallet, 2:334).4 They worried that the missionaries or they themselves might die before they were able to confess. They did not seem to care whether priests understood their confession or not. Those Koreans who knew Chinese, the official language in Chosŏn society, wrote their sins down and showed the paper to the French missionaries who knew Chinese. Those who were illiterate asked the missionaries to allow them to make their confessions with the help of translators (Dallet, 2:334). It is recorded that Fr. Pierre Philibert Maubant (1803-1839) heard more than 600 confessions each time he visited the mission at Easter and Christmas (2:335). Even though he was in much pain from a kidney illness, Bishop Simon Francois Berneux (1814-1866) heard the confessions of 1,500 persons during the course of several weeks (3:301). Records show that in 1857 there were 15,206 Catholics, 9,981 of whom went to confession and received communion (Grayson 1985:79).

This practice of confession seems to have been most prevalent among women. Dallet points out in the beginning of the period of the "self-styled priests" (1786-1788), "These priests who, in accordance with Chosŏn custom, had avoided meeting aristocratic women, refused to hear the confessions of women. But women clamored for confession very often. So these priests could not help but defer to their requests" (Grayson, 1:324-25). When the Chinese priest Fr. Chu Mun-mo (+1801) was in Korea, half of those who went to confession were women (Grayson, 1:561; Hwang 1975:84-85). Many tragedies occurred when women sneaked out at night to go to confession, as they were not allowed to leave their homes. Father Ch’oe often spoke about the special nature of women’s struggle to convert to Catholicism, as they were unable to freely practice their faith in a non-Catholic family. Noble women, he recounted, "cannot speak with people except with close family members and are not allowed to show their faces to men they do not know. It is absolutely impossible to receive confession, while under the watch of husband and parents."5 There is a story of a 19-year-old noble woman, Anna, who was a faithful believer and married to a non-Catholic. She had no contact with any Catholics. However, she was eager to receive confession. Father Ch’oe went to Anna’s village and waited under a tree in a farm field for someone to bring him a list of Anna’s sins. Later he sneaked into her house to forgive her sins and give her communion (Dallet, 3:159-60). Bishop Jean Joseph Ferreol (1808-1853) was moved to tears by the stories of the noble women and women married to non-Catholics.

Some came out of their homes at night to go to confession when everyone else was asleep (Dallet, 3:141). This was difficult because the women lived in the anchae (inner house) and the men lived in thesaranche (outer house). A further difficulty in leaving the home secretly at night was the fact that parents lived under the same roof. If the woman did succeed in leaving her home, she could easily be kidnapped by men she encountered in the streets because she was without the protection of her family (3:161).

Given the risks women took in leaving their homes at night to reach the priest (as has been previously discussed), these reports reflect a very fervent desire for the sacrament. Bishop Marie Nicolas Daveluy (+1866) reported that virgins, women with infants, and elderly women came to confess, having crossed over mountains covered with snow and walked for three, six, or even eight days. They did not feel it was too far a distance; after confession they cried with joy and returned home in peace.6 The sources repeatedly reveal the peace and happiness these women found in the practice.7 When Korean Catholics explained that they could not go to confession if there were no priests, Pope Gregory XVI (1831-1846) gave a special indulgence for the practice of a perfect act of contrition (Jin-so 1998:687-91).

Why were women in Chosŏn so devoted to the sacrament of confession? What function did confession serve for these women? The following sections will attempt to answer this question in developing three points: fidelity to God, Eucharistic devotion, and the effects of confession itself.

Fidelity to God

Church historians say that the life of the early Korean Catholics was similar to that of members of religious orders in their emphasis on poverty, prayer, a simple life in common, and faithfulness to Catholic practices.

Why did these Catholics so strongly emphasize the practice of confession? The first reason was that confession was a means of showing their faithfulness to God. To be faithful persons, they desired to remain pure; to be suitable Christians they wished to be without flaw. For this, the Ten Commandments were their guide; they frequently recited the Commandments, and tried to keep them in their lives. Additionally, many men and some women practiced penance by fasting and prayer.8


Influenced by Asian culture and religions, people in Chosŏn had a long tradition of self-examination. Naturally, Catholics developed examination of conscience in the light of these traditions. In Buddhism, self-examination emphasized that no one should deceive, despise, show anger toward, or do harm to others (Masutani 1965:167). Taoism additionally stressed purity, clarity, and indifference to worldly things (Hang-yong 1987:56-57; Chung 2001:143), extolling a "bright and clean mind like a stainless mirror" (Rakpil 1992:369). Confucius emphasized self-examination and the function of moral discernment that is called conscience. He also stressed the human being’s essential goodness and morality (Gurdak 1980:76-84, Ching 1993:122-24). Thus, most Koreans placed importance on avoiding all evil, trying to do good, and purifying the mind.


Asian culture and religions very much emphasized the necessity of a pure motive in one’s actions. In Buddhism, to purify one’s mind includes purifying one’s motive. Buddhist merit is based on pure motives (Masutani, 149-50); good works are worthless without good and pure intentions. Buddhism teaches that if the desire for fame and reward motivates one to do good, such good earns "impure merit," because it comes from worldly desires. This idea is paralleled in lines from the Old Testament: "God discerns hearts and minds" (Ps 7:9), and "The Lord knows the thoughts of man." (Ps 93: 11) Catholics in Chosŏn believed that a righteous Christian was much more concerned with serving God than with going to heaven! (Jin-so, 350-52)

Traditionally, Koreans understood purity as related not only to the mind but also to the body, and they loved purity in both. The typical color of Korean clothes reflects this: Koreans loved to wear white, saying it was like white gems in its cleanliness, purity, and simplicity. King Myŏngjong (1545-1567) forbade the wearing of white, which was the color of mourning, saying it was likely to bring on national ruin. During the period of Japanese colonization, white clothing was banned in order to suppress the Korean national spirit. The reason given was that white clothing was uneconomical, as its production required excessive labor. However, no attempt succeeded in destroying the custom; Koreans’ love for the purity represented by the color was too strong (Kyu-tae 1993:216).

The Korean sense of purity and esteem for pure motivation produced a sensitive attentiveness to self-examination and, too often, scrupulosity and shame. Thus, confession, with its total absolution of sin, was very attractive to a people whose culture habituated them to self-examination.

Exterior Restrictions and Guilty Sense

Another reason for the appreciation of confession can be found if one considers how the rather exterior restrictions of Confucianism forced women to be meekly subservient to their families. This could easily lead to an accumulation of anger and hatred toward one’s "oppressors." People who are oppressed by others often become oppressors to those who are weaker than themselves (Hyŏn-jŏng 1996:28). It is easy to imagine Korean women being tempted in this way. In such a case, guilt is often produced in one’s relationships. It was difficult to have good relationships between daughters and mothers-in-law, or even between sisters-in-law. The relationship between Han Anna and Kim Barbara, sisters-in-law who were in great concord, was praised by others (Dallet, 2:443-44, 3:55). In contrast, relationships between other sisters-in-law were not so harmonious. Bad relationships seem to have been the main cause of guilt in women. It is a matter of record that many Catholic women were admired because they practiced Hyo to parents devotedly and well.9 This may indicate that Hyo was not always easy to put into practice. Catholic women may have been conscience-stricken and uncomfortable if they found Hyo to be an endless and onerous duty. They may have thought that they committed sin if they sometimes obeyed their parents-in-law while their thoughts towards them were unkind and resistant.

Fear of God’s Punishment

With so much sensitive inner examination, women may have been afraid of God and God’s punishment. This fear derived from reverence and respect. They had a strong belief that God would reward goodness but that God’s justice would punish sinners (Si-jun 1987:349). There is evidence that they desired to have holy pictures and other sacred objects on hand to gain indulgences and pardon for their sins, especially for people who were dying without confession (Dallet, 2:27). Women’s oppression because of class and gender discrimination could only have added to their eager desires to enter the kingdom of heaven, where they would be finally and fully accepted. Yet, they were afraid of God’s punishment for sin and of hell (Kwang 1977:69). Hell to them was an unimaginably horrible place where people suffer innumerable hardships in endless fire, far worse than any suffering known in this world (Dallet, 1:413). They regarded confession, a sure means of escaping this punishment, as the most important sacrament.

Influence of French Missionaries

The practice of the sacrament of confession had grown slowly over the centuries of the Church’s history.10 The Korean Catholic Church was institutionally evangelized by French missionaries. Influenced by the French school of spirituality, which explained how Francis de Sales counseled Philothea to go to confession every week, in order to avoid falling into routine sins. He emphasized that after a diligent self-examination the penitent should expressly confess both the act and the motive of the sin (Dudley, 71-82). John Eudes, who greatly influenced the Society of the Paris Foreign missionaries (MEP), points out that "sin is a cruel homicide, a horrifying deicide... It is an annihilation of nature, of grace, of glory and of all reality." He counseled others to avoid "venial sin as much as possible" (Thompson 1989:302). Jansenism emphasized penitence as a necessary attitude before receiving absolution for one’s sins from a priest. But the motivation of penitence was usually fear of punishment in hell (Sedgwick 1977:29).

All of these cultural, psychological, and religious imperatives to be pure led Koreans to sensitive self-examination in order to be suitable Christians. The desire to be faithful to God and the fear of God’s punishment brought on eschatological faith, painstaking observance of the Ten Commandments, and self-examination, and produced in them a real passion for confession (Jin-so, 353-55).

Devotion to the Eucharist

Another important reason for women’s eagerness for confession can be found in the devotion to the Eucharist. Eucharistic devotion was strong among both women and men. It is not certain exactly how Korean Catholics in the 18th and 19th centuries understood the mystery of the Eucharist, but some cases of women show that they were very eager to go to confession and to attend Mass, and that they had a profound veneration of the Blessed Sacrament. An example is the story of Yi Sun-hi (1801), who at age 14 met Fr. Chu. She stayed in a room for four days to prepare to receive communion, and her overriding concern was how to preserve the effect of the sacrament. She decided to live as a virgin, in order to receive communion properly and to preserve its grace (Dallet, 1:534-55). She married Yu Chong-chŏl and lived as a virgin spouse. Through this story we can see that, even though they did not have much catechetical formation, from the earliest founding of the Korean Church, Catholics revered the mystery of the Eucharist. Secondly, in order to be properly prepared to receive Holy Communion many women took desperate risks in their efforts to go to confession. Priests were frequently impressed and deeply moved by such women.

When the French missionaries came to Chosŏn in the 19th century they brought with them a form of Eucharistic devotion, widespread in France, which linked a great devotion to the Eucharist with scrupulosity about sin.

This spirituality itself arose out of a long history. Since the end of the third century, asceticism had been held in esteem. In the 18th century some people in France avoided frequent communion out of respect for the Eucharist. Although this was due in part to the influence of Jansenism, there was rigorism in relation to the reception of Holy Communion by anti-Jansenists as well. Confession and communion were thought to provide a kind of moral discipline (Gibson, 257-60; Delumeau 1977:107-108), and communion was seen as a reward for virtue rather than as a meal with God. After the Council of Trent an over-sensitivity to one’s sinfulness brought about "rigorist confessional practice and a restrictive attitude to communion" (Delumeau, 161). Thus, in France at the beginning of the 19th century many people, although they went to Mass regularly, only confessed or received communion at Easter.

Korean Catholics in the 19th century very faithfully followed Catholic teaching, even in situations that were dangerous for them as Catholics. This is evidenced by a letter written in 1811 by some Korean Catholics to the bishop of Beijing requesting an exemption from the obligation of fasting for travelers, soldiers, and government laborers, because Catholics were easily exposed when they ate at taverns or in public places (Ki-gyŏng 2000: chap. 5:225). The letter began by affirming their absolute determination not to deny God by failing to keep any of God’s commandments: "We will serve only God!"

Many examples can be found that show how faithful Koreans were to the observance of the Ten Commandments as a guide for Christian life. Pak Ch’i-dŭk, faced with an investigation in 1801, responded to the question, "What wrong have you done?" by answering, "I could not completely keep the Ten Commandments" (Ki-gyŏng, 2:187). Chŏng Ha-sang (+1839) taught others how necessary it was not to disobey even one of the Ten Commandments; he knew that human frailty leads to sins of licentiousness, idolatry, jealousy, anger, selfishness, and dissension (Ki-gyŏng, 349).

For another example, when Kim Tai-gŏn (1821-1846) was a deacon in 1845 he went to China with 11 believers to bring Bishop Ferreol back to Korea. While there, the believers first asked him to arrange for the sacrament of confession. Kim translated for them into French (Dallet, 3:74-75). They had so desired to go to confession because they felt they could not receive Holy Communion with impure minds and guilty consciences. Such was their veneration for Holy Communion that they felt obliged to go to confession before receiving the Host.

French missionaries, who had been trained under Tridentine Catholicism and the influence of Jansenism, promoted this rigorous attitude.11 As was the case in France well into the early 20th century, they threatened sinners with judgment, punishment, hell-fire, and damnation (Gibson, 251-54). Also as in France, the missionaries used confession as a form of disciplinary punishment (Dallet, 3:270-71). It is recorded that Father Daveluy forbade an unknown woman from receiving the sacrament of confession because she did not know her catechism well enough. She did not want to take lessons, because she had been baptized without the knowledge or permission of her husband. This woman persuaded her husband to become a Catholic "in order to have confession" (Dallet, 3:271).

However, for most of the 19th century in Korea, public reception of the Eucharist and worship of the Blessed Sacrament were impossible because of the persecutions. Even though Catholics eagerly wanted to have Mass, they could not because there were few missionaries, and until about 1886 the missionary priests could not appear in public.

Perhaps another reason for the strong devotion of Korean women to the Eucharist can be found in certain ancient customs, such as prayers said in front of a water ball in the back garden, or prayers at the "Three Shrines" in Buddhist temples. Once the converts learned that Christ was present in the Blessed Sacrament, these earlier practices of prayer may have easily been transformed into Catholic forms of adoration and prayer. There is evidence of a strong Eucharistic devotion, of praying the rosary in front of the Blessed Sacrament, of practicing adoration of the Eucharist, and of participating in Corpus Christi processions.

In conclusion, during the time of the persecutions the sacraments of confession and communion were both celebrated clandestinely.12 Nevertheless, Catholic women as well as men were eager to go to confession and to Mass. This practice was linked to the conviction that one needed to confess in order to be worthy to receive Holy Communion, which was reinforced by the contemporary French insistence on confession before the reception of the Eucharist.

Spiritual and Emotional Healing

A very important and practical reason for Chosŏn women to go to confession was for the healing and reconciliation that the sacrament offered. In Korea the terms Punda and Pulda (untie and unbind) have often been used to suggest reconciliation with others (Jin-so, 368-70). Confession for them meant to untie, undo, or unbind tangles derived from conflicts in relationships with others and within the social order. Women who had lived under oppression and severe restrictions, and who had been required to practice self-deprecation and self-denial, accumulated anger and pent-up feelings to which they could not give expression. This often produced hypochondria and nervous anxiety (Hyŏn-jŏng, 34). Oppression stemming from the very structure of society could not be overcome by women’s personal power, and thus led to dissatisfaction, grudges, and rancor. Dissensions and conflicts with others, without the means to express one’s opinion and experience reconciliation, over time grew into smoldering resentment. All these accumulated emotions provoked in women an unhealthy emotional condition, which in Korean was called HanHan is a compound noun expressing "grief" or "deep sorrow," "ineffectiveness and unfairness," "grudge," and "resentment" (Sŏk-jin 1998:52-53; Hae-wuk 1992:57; Chung Hyun 1997:42-44, 66). Many women suffered from Han in their inner emotional life. Thus, women in Chosŏn, oppressed by social customs of class and gender discrimination, needed a breakthrough to relieve the dregs accumulated in their unconscious (Hyŏn-jŏng, 7).

In world religions, healing is often achieved by exorcism. Such healing is usually effected by religious leaders, traditional healers, or shamans (Dong-sik 1997:169). In the Chosŏn dynasty healing was realized through the Shaman ritual of Gut. In the 17th century, during which personal Shaman rituals were popular, Gut flourished as a means of healing disease or driving out evil spirits. Gut was embedded in the folklore of Chosŏn, and deeply affected the mentality of most people, especially women (Dong-sik, 165-69).

Gut had three functions: to heal disease; to drive away calamity; and to petition for blessing and consolation for the souls of the dead (Dong-sik, 229). Firstly, people thought disease was caused by evil spirits, which were spirits of persons (mostly souls of the dead) who were full of rancor. Secondly, calamity and misfortune were thought to be caused by the anger of gods. Thirdly, people believed that the soul of the dead could not leave the home if it had a regret about something or somebody. Thus, the ritual of Gut was performed to drive away evil spirits, prevent calamity, and acquire blessing. During a Gut the shaman often scolded or advised people about deep-seated rancor and hatred on the part of the spirit of the dead. It was believed that before the soul of the deceased could completely leave this world, the shaman must try to break any harmful influences that the dead person might have on the living. The shaman could express the concern of the dead for the family’s future. Through the utterances of a shaman, not only were the bonds of Han untied for the spirit of the dead, but the Han of the family was relieved (Hyŏn-jŏng, 37). This is why another name of Gut was Pulri, which means "to untie" (Jae-han 1982:13). Thus, the Gut functioned not only as a consolation for the soul of the dead but also as a source of healing and comfort for the family (Dong-sik, 227-29). Gut was thought always to result in a happy outcome.

Another and most important effect of Gut for women is to be found in its very process. The ritual that led the shaman to ecstasy entailed drink, song, and dance (Dong-sik, 66). A Gut might last one, three, or seven days. Many village women gathered to watch it. When the shaman sang and danced, all participants and onlookers ate and danced together. (Thus, in an old saying, a mother-in-law did not want to have a Gut, because she hated to see her daughter-in-law dancing.) The history of Shaman rituals teaches that as early as the Three Kingdom Period (37 BC-668 CE) our ancestors were more concerned about the festive aspects of drinking, singing, and dancing than about the worshipping of gods during the Shamanic rituals (Jang-tae 1996:118). Participants in Gut were mostly women, who did not have any proper form of entertainment in Chosŏn society. Their enthusiastic participation in the rituals greatly eased their sense of suppression. Gut was a great chance for entertainment, and also a means to release emotional tension, for women from all social classes: the nobility, villagers, and the lowly (Dong-sik, 210). Thus, in the age of undeveloped medical science, Gut served to relieve Han and to bring deliverance from resentments that had accumulated in people (Sŏk-jin, 53).

Shamanism itself was a religion oppressed and marginalized in an androcentric society. Most shamans were women who belonged to the lowliest class, and were thus despised and poor. A shaman’s Gut untied deep grudges caused by family problems and social marginalization; unpleasant feelings resulting from relationships in society and family were released in an "undoing" not unlike the collapse of a dike (Hyŏn-jŏng, 34-36). It was a well-organized and beneficial process of healing that gathered family and neighbors together to share their worries and joys by eating, drinking, and dancing together. Gut functioned as a bridge through which persons could overcome a sense of alienation and reach a new, harmonious, and peaceful relationship with others again (Pu-yŏng 1982:163-64). Because women were not able to untie accumulated Han in a "reasonable" way, they found this other "unreasonable" way. Shamanism could not completely resolve women’s Han, but it nevertheless comforted women and reduced their sense of suffering (Kwang-son 1972:427).

Gut was a woman’s arena. It was usually organized by women and most participants were women. Here one might raise the question, in a period when women could do nothing without permission from their husbands, how could women have a shaman ritual at home? How did they pay for the expense of the ritual? Many men simply ignored or tolerated shaman rituals in their homes. This was primarily because the shaman ritual, with its purpose of protecting the family from disaster and calamity, was associated with blessing and healing. Men might know about the Gut, but they often left home to avoid participation themselves, and to allow women the freedom to participate fully. Many shaman rituals were very popular in the period when medical science was not well developed. It should be noted that these rituals were not sought often at the outset of disease. Instead, Gut was performed at the last moment, when one could do nothing by human efforts. They were even performed with some frequency in the palace for the healing of a prince, king, or queen (Dong-sik, 195-220).

Women who converted to Catholicism were no longer permitted to participate in these rituals. Where did they find authentic access to their new religion? They were not used to the Catholic prayers; having a Mass once a year was not enough to relieve their anger and suffering. They needed an external means for healing. Many thought of the Mass as a kind of Gut, and the crucifix as an amulet (Il-yŏng 1989:115). Most importantly, the sacrament of confession took the place of the function of healing in Gut. As Church historian Kim Jin-so states, "Confession was a sacrament for reconciliation, unbinding grudges, for harmony... This was a sacrament not for the dead but for the living" (Jin-so, 375). Women went to the priest, whom they looked upon as a proxy for God, to make their confession. It did not matter whether a missionary could understand Korean or not. Indeed, it is not certain how much these early Korean converts even understood about the elements and ritual of the sacrament of confession. But what is certain is that it was an unusual and important experience for women to have somebody with religious power listen to their confession and to their pleadings about their sorry situations. Moreover, the sacrament offered assurance of remission of sin to the one who confessed. Thus, confession served as a blessing, and as a kind of hospital to heal inner disease, and offered the experience of release from sin.


The deep passion for the practice of confession among women in Chosŏn came from their conviction that involvement in this practice meant they were good practicing Christians, faithful to God. In addition, it removed their fear of God’s punishment if they were to remain in sin. Influenced by Asian culture and religions, they had a refined tradition of self-examination that very easily led to a sense of guilt. Taoism had taught inner freedom. Confucianism emphasized goodness and morality. Buddhism sought the deliverance and freedom that relieve one from anguish, passion, and oppression (Jin-so, 368-75). Women were also devoted to confession because of their strong Eucharistic devotion. This had come to Chosŏn with the 19th century French missionaries. The situation of the lives of women in Confucian patriarchal society led women to love confession and the Eucharist. Confession released them from guilt and brought healing from accumulated inner disease. It provided them with the relief, reconciliation, and harmony that they were used to finding in the shaman rite. Confession was thus a cherished blessing for Catholic women in Chosŏn society. Finally, these women were eager for confession and communion as a means of showing their love and fidelity to Almighty God, the Great Father.




1. Chosŏn dynasty is the name of the country now known as Korea during the period 1392-1910.

2. Pari Weabang Chŏn’gyohoe Sŏn’gyosa Sŏhanjib (Collections of the Letters of the Society of Paris Foreign Missionaries) edited by Han’guk Kyohoesa Yŏnguso and Dioces Taechŏn (Seoul: Han’guk Kyohoesa Yŏnguso, 1994),29, 34, 99, 102, 111, 138.

3. The Korean Church was established by Confucian scholars who initially studied Catholicism as a Western science through the Catholic books written in Chinese from the 18th century. Yi Pyŏk and his companions sent Yi Sŭng-hun (1756-1801) to Beijing in order to contact the Catholic Church and to learn more about Catholicism, and in 1784 he was baptized by Father Louis de Grammont, a French Jesuit missionary in Beijing. He came back to Korea in March, and he baptized Yi Pyŏk and Kwon Il-sin and his companions. They then began to evangelize their friends and relatives. In 1787 the early leaders formally organized themselves to develop a local church. They appointed Yi Sŭng-hun and about nine other leaders to be priests and Kwon Il-sin was elected as bishop. In 1789 their reading of the religious books began to give them doubts about this self-styled clergy. Therefore, the group sent a letter written by Yi Sŭng-hun and Kwon Il-sin to Bishop Gouvea, a member of the third Order of St. Francis in Bejing. In the spring of 1790, Yun Yu-il returned with the bishop’s response, which both "encouraged them to preserve their faith" and "rebuked them for assuming the priestly ministry." They immediately abolished their false ecclesiastical hierarchy and sent a letter asking for a priest as soon as possible.

4. 103 wi Sungyo Sŏngindŭlŭi Saengae (The Lives of 103 Martyr Saints of Korea) edited by Ki-sŏn O & Hong-yŏl Yu (Seoul: St. Joseph, 1984), vols. 1-2,253.

5. Grayson, 3:160-61, Ch’oe Yang- ŏp, Ch’oe Sinbu Sŏganjib (A Collection of Fr. Ch’oe’s letters:1842-1860), translated by Chung-sin Im (Seoul: Han’guk Kyohoesa Yŏnguso, 1984), 97.

6. Dallet, 3:140-41, 252-53, 138, quoting Marie Nicolas Daveluy’s letter (October 1847), APF XXI, 259-60.

7. Ch’oe Yang-ŏp, Sinbu Sŏgan jib, (October 1850), 97; Dallet, 3:141, quoting the letter of Jean Joseph Ferreol (November 1847), APF XXI, p. 285-87; Dallet, 3:60-61, 253; 103 wi Sungyo Sŏngindŭlŭi Saengae, 1:255, 258.

8. Dallet, 1:511, 615, 2:66, 92, 121, 141, 168, 172, 174, 177-78, 185, 191.

9. Dallet, 2:435-36, 512-13; Pyŏngin Pakhae Sun’gyoja Chŭngŏnrok (The Collection of Testimonies of the Persecution in 1866-1876) (Seoul: Han’guk Kyohoesa Yŏnguso, 1987),190-91, 220.

10. Medieval monasticism taught that "spiritual perfection and detachment from sin" are basically one. This ethic led to an increased use of the sacrament of confession. In the eighth century confession twice a year or three times a year was demanded. Since the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) confession and the reception of Communion at least at Easter was obligatory. The Fathers of the Council of Trent (1551) emphasized the sacrament of penance as a means of renewal, and vigorously reaffirmed its frequent use. Confession was also stressed as a necessary preparation for the Eucharist. Dudley1990:57, 59 and Gibson 1989:159.

11. They provided the books Haejei Chikji and Sŏngchal kiryak (guides for confession), written by Father Marie Nicolas Daveluy when he was in Korea between 1844 and 1866. Ibid., 3:364.

12. In 1893 The Blessed Sacrament was reserved in the church in Chungchŏng diocese. Pari Weabang Chŏn’gyohoe Sŏn’gyosa Sŏhanjib, 49.





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1997 The Struggle to be the Sun Again (New York: Maryknoll, Orbis).

Dallet, Charles



1980 Han’guk Ch’ŏnju Kyohoesa (History of Korean Catholic Church), The 1874 Text, translated by ŭng-yŏl An and Sŏk-u Ch’oe (Weagwan: Pundo Chulpansa).

Delumeau, Jean



1977 Catholicism between Luther and Voltaire: A New View of the Counter-Reformation(Philadelphia: Burns & Oates).

Dong-sik Yu



1997 Han’guk Mugyo ŭi Yŏksa wa Kujo (The History and Structure of Korean Shamanism) (Seoul: Yense University).

Dudley, Martin

1990 "The Sacrament of Penance in Catholic Teaching and Practice" Confession and Absolution, edited by Martin Dudley and Geoffrey Rowell (London: SPCK).

Gibson, Ralph

1989 A Social History of French Catholicism 1789-1914 (London: Routledge).

Grayson, James Huntley

1992 Early Buddhism and Christianity in Korea (Netherlands: Leiden).

Hae-wuk Ryu



1992 "Love in the Contemplatio of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius and Han in the Korean Culture" (STL Thesis, Weston Jesuit School of Theology).

Hang-yong Song



1987 "Han’guk Kodae ŭi Togyo Sasang" (Taoism in Ancient Korean Times), in Togyo wa Han’guk Sasang (Taoism and Korean Thought), edited by Han’guk Togyo Munhwa Hakhoe Pyŏn (Seoul: Pŏmyangsa Chulpanbu).

Hwang, Sa-yŏng



1975 Hwang Sa-yŏng Paeksŏ (The Silk Letter of Hwang, Sa-yŏng: 1801), translated by Chae-yŏng ŭn (Seoul: Chŏngŭm Mun’go).

Hyŏn-jŏng Kim



1996 "Han’guk Yŏsŏng ŭi Han ŭi Silsanggwa Han pulriae taehan Yŏsŏng Sinhakjŏk Kochal"(The Reality of Han among Korean Women and the Study of Feminist Theology about the Removal of Han) (M.A. Thesis, Taejŏn: Mokwon University).

Il-yŏng Pak



1989 "Chonggyo kanŭi Taehwa" (Conversation among Religions), Chonggyo Sinhak Yŏngu(The Study of Theology and Religion).

Jae-han Kim



1982 "Han’guk Christian Church ae Mich’in Shamanism ŭi Yŏnghyang" (The Influence of Shmanism on the Korean Christian Church) (M.A. Thesis, Seoul: Koryŏ Taehakgyo).

Jang-tae Kŭm



1996 Yuhak Sasang kwa Yugyo Munhwa (Confucian Thought and Culture) (Seoul: Chŏntong Munhwa Yŏnguwon (The Institute of Traditional Culture).

Jin-so Kim



1998 Ch’ŏnjugyo Chŏnju Kyogusa (A History of Chŏnju Diocese) (Chŏnju: Chŏnju Diocese).

Ki-gyŏng Yi



2000 Pyŏkwip’yŏn, 312; Yun Yu-il Paul kwa Tongryo Sungyojadŭl ŭi Sibok Charyojib (The Documentation of the Beatification of Yun Yu-il Paul and Companions) (Suwon: Suwon Diocesan Committee for the Promotion of Beatification).

Kwang Cho

1977 "Sinyu Pakhae ŭi Punsŏkjŏk Kochal," [The Analytical Study of the Persecution (1801)].Kyohoesa Yŏnku 1.

Kwang-sŏn Sŏ



1972 "Han’guk Yŏsŏng kwa Chonggyo" (Korean Women and Religion). Han’guk Yŏsŏngsa (The History of Korean Women) (Seoul: Yi hwa University).

Kyu-tae Yi



1993 Han’guk Yŏsŏngŭi ŭisik Kujo (Korean Women’s Ways of Thinking) (Seoul: Sinwon Munhwasa).

Masutani, Fumio



1965 A Comparative Study of Buddhism and Christianity (Tokyo: CIIB Press). Quoting Sutta-nipata, translated by V. Fausboil, (Sacred Books of the East Vol. X).

Pu-yŏng Lee



1982 Han’guk Musok ŭi Chonghapjŏk Kochal (A Synthetic Study of Shamanism in Korea) (Seoul: The Institute of National Culture of Koryŏ University).

Rak-pil Kim



1992 "Chosŏn Hugi Mingan Togyo ŭi Yunri Sasang" (The Moral Thought of Taoism among People in the Late Choson Society), in Han’guk Togyo ŭi Hyŏndaejŏk Chomyŏng (The Contemporary Illumination of Taoism in Korea) (Seoul: Asian Munhwasa).

Sedgwick, Alexander



1977 Jansenism in Seventeenth-Century France, Voices from the Wilderness(Charlottesville, VA: UTA Press).

Si-junKim (ed.)

1987 Ki-gyŏng Yi, Pyŏkwip’yŏn (An Interpretation of Catholicism by a Confucian Scholar in the Early 19th Century) (Seoul: Myŏng-mundang).

Sŏk-jin Kang



1998 "Han’gukin ŭi Chŏntongjŏk Chonggyo Simsŏnggwa Christian Yŏngsŏng Tochakhwa Yŏngu" (A Study of Traditional Religious Mentality of Koreans and Christian Spiritual Inculturation with an Emphasis on Korean Folk-Religion) (M.A. Thesis, Seoul: Catholic University).

Thompson, William M. (ed.)

1989 Bérulle and the French School, Selected Writings, translated by Lowell M. Glendon (New York: Paulist Press).

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