President Moon preaches Korean peace at Vatican

Lester Mason
October 18, 2018

Pope Francis on Thursday received an invitation to visit North Korea and the pontiff indicated that he would consider making what would be a landmark trip to the hermit nation, according to South Korean officials.

There had been rumblings of displeasure from the UNC, which oversees the demilitarized zone and is headed by the US, that it was not consulted on a wide-ranging military agreement signed by Moon and Kim. "The spirit of inclusion and alliance that the European Union has been working to realize is giving inspirations in our journey toward lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula", he said in an address after the mass.

Discussions are under way to allow public access to the border demarcation line in the Joint Security Area, where Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in, the South Korean President, greeted each other with smiles and a hug at their first summit earlier this year.

"The pope told President Moon that he would immediately respond to the invitation once he officially receives one", Yoon continued.

If the visit takes place, it will be the first time for a leader of the Catholic Church to step foot in the North.

Moon wrote when he visited Pyongyang in September for the summit, he was joined by a Korean Catholic bishop to try and improve relations between the church in North and South Korea.

North Korea's constitution guarantees freedom of religion as long as it does not undermine the state. Estimates of the number of North Korean Catholics range from 800 to about 3,000, compared to more than five million in South Korea. "As a result, I laid the ground for a permanent peace with U.S. President Donald Trump and the North's Kim", Moon was quoted as saying by Yoon.

Moon said incredible changes were already happening on the peninsula.

The Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, said of the likelihood of Francis accepting such an invite: "I would say the availability to go is there".

The president asked the Vatican to continue praying for peace on the peninsula.

In his homily, Parolin prayed for the "gift of peace" on the Korean Peninsula so that "after so many years of tensions and division, the word peace can come out fully".

President Moon Jae-in, who is Catholic, spoke at the end of an evening mass at the Vatican, saying the prayers offered at the service would "resound as echoes of hope in the hearts of the people of the two Koreas as well as the people of the whole world who desire peace".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

Discuss This Article