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North Korea: religious leaders meet with Pope Francis. “Peace at all costs.”  

On Saturday September 2 the leaders of Korea’s seven main religions will have a special audience with the Holy Father. “We will ask Pope Francis to pray and help the Korean people, for the reunification of the Korean peninsula”, Msgr. Igino Kim Hee-joong, archbishop of Gwangju, President of the Korean Bishops’ Conference, told SIR. The archbishop made an appeal: "To seek peace not with weapons or sanctions but through dialogue, negotiation and mutual respect at all costs.”  

(Foto: AFP/SIR)

“Pope Francis is well informed and closely follows the situation; the Holy Father is deeply hopes in the establishment of peace in the Korean peninsula. The leaders of the seven main religions in Korea are due to be received in a special audience with the Holy Father. We will him ask to impart his prayers and help the Korean people for the reunification of the Korean peninsula.” The announcement was made by Monsignor Igino Kim Hee-joong, archbishop of Gwangju, President of the Korean Bishops’ Conference.

The audience with Pope Francis – said the archbishop, contacted by phone by SIR before departing for Rome – will take place next Saturday (September 2). Attending the meeting with the archbishop will be Korea’s major religious leaders. It’s not the first time that Korean religious leaders meet the Pope. An earlier meeting was held in Korea in August 2014, when the Pope visited the Country.

This year’s meeting takes place in the framework of a “pilgrimage” of religious leaders to Rome. The pilgrimage holds special significance in the light of the threats of a nuclear war, with constant missile launches by Pyongyang’s regime in the Asian region. The UN Security Council “strongly condemns” last Tuesday’s missile test, President Trump announced that all options are on the table, while South Korea fired back at North Korea’s missile launch, dropping eight bombs on the border with North Korea.

In a meeting held August 29 the Justice and Peace Commission of the Korean Bishops’ Conference, headed by Monsignor Lazzaro You Heung-sik, bishop of Daejeon, voiced its concern and reiterated: “Peace cannot be created through the balance of the power of weapons but through mutual trust”, coupled by a request to “reconsider” the intention announced by the South-Korean government to launch Terminal High Altitude Area Defense medium and short-range missiles (THAAD) to defend the South Korean territory. But yesterday (August 30) South Korean Defence Minister Suh Choo-suk informed that North Korea is ready to carry out its sixth nuclear test at any moment.

Mons. Igino Kim, the world looks at the constant missile launch from Pyongyang with great concern. Do you wish to make an appeal for peace?

The safest weapon for peace is not missiles but reconciliation through dialogue, which must be conducted in the most sincere possible way and with open trust.

A nuclear war would have devastating consequences for the whole of humanity. What is the reason for choosing the option of nuclear threats and weapons at all costs?
What you say is true. A nuclear war would have devastating consequences on the whole of humanity. It seems that the gesture of North Korea is dictated by the will to have a direct relationship with the United States on equal grounds, and by the determination not to be isolated from the international scenario. Also North Korea is aware that a nuclear war would have disastrous consequences for mankind.

Is a peaceful dialogue with Pyongyang possible and what can the Church do? Are there relations with North Korea and what could be the role of the Church?

I’m sure that a dialogue for peace with Pyongyang is possible. North Korea has faith in the Catholic Church in Korea and we maintain a trustful relationship.

On our part we intend to further continual relations and dialogue on matters of mutual interest. I also hope we will meet soon. The Catholic Church in Korea will seek to focus her efforts on advancing denuclearization  and peace-building in the Korean peninsula, and mark a turning point enabling the next generations to dream a world of justice, love and respect for the whole of creation.

Korea is divided. But when Pope Francis visited Korea he said that the Korean people are one same family. Is there a possibility of a “peace deal” between the two Koreas today?
If the so-called world powers help us there would be a possibility of a “peace deal” between North and South Korea. Many faithful say the rosary praying for peace between North and South Korea every day, while several dioceses plan to launch a “campaign” to promote the “peace deal” with all the Korean people that wish and work for peace. We also seek to cooperate with North Korea to send basic necessities.

The United States and Japan are reacting to the provocations of North Korea. Would you like to make an appeal to them too?

I think we should always seek peace not with weapons or sanctions but through dialogue, negotiations and mutual respect at all costs.




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