This special event for members of religious orders was a papal liturgy on Saturday evening, 16th August, which 4,000 religious sisters and 400 male religious priests and brothers attended. In his homily, the Pope gave lively emphasis on community life and the vow of poverty. Six Korean Augustinians participated in the event (and two of them appear in the photo below).
The event took place at a Catholic welfare centre called Kkottongnae or 'Flower Village' which is 160 kilometers south of Seoul; it was started by a Korean diocesan priest in 1976 and now cares for some 4,000 residents, including mentally and physically handicapped children. It has 1,000 workers (many of them volunteers), its own orders of religious brothers and sisters and a university faculty for social welfare. Because of the Pope’s visitation of so many of the sick and handicapped at Kkottongnae, his liturgy with the Religious began late and had to be shortened.
The visit of the Pope to South Korea throws a spotlight on the challenges and opportunities facing the Catholic Church in Asia, a region that is home to 60% of the world's population but just 12% of the global Catholic community. In 2010, about 3% of Asians were Catholic, compared with 72% of Latin Americans and a third of Europeans. The Philippines was home to more than half of the 131 million Catholics in Asia in 2010, making it the third-largest Catholic community in the world. South Korea and Vietnam have fast-growing Catholic communities, but Catholics make up just 10% and 7% of their populations respectively.
Pope Francis is scheduled to return to the Asia-Pacific on 12-19th January 2015 to visit the Philippines, which is home to more than half of the Asia-Pacific region's Catholics, and possibly also to go to Sri Lanka as part of the same journey.