The leaders of Korea’s seven main religions will have a special audience with Pope Francis on September 2, 2017, to ask for his prayers and help in bringing peace and reunification to the Korean peninsula, reported SIR, the information service of the French bishops, on August 31, 2017.
“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 and 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.”
The meeting will be part of a “pilgrimage” of the religious leaders to Rome, which has special significance this year in light of the troubled situation on the Korean Peninsula, including the threat of nuclear war.
In an interview with SIR, Archbishop Igino Kim said, “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.”
The archbishop said that a nuclear war would have “devastating consequences” for the world and that North Korea leaders understand those consequences. 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?
He pointed out, however, that dialogue with the North is “possible” and there is a “trustful relationship” with the Catholic Church. He suggested that with the help of world powers, a “peace deal” between North and South Korea is possible.
“Many faithful say the rosary praying for peace between North and South Korea every day,” the archbishop said. “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.”
Vatican Radio reported on August 8, 2017 the call for “dialogue” on North Korea from Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the former permanent observer to the UN in Geneva, who currently serves as advisor to the Vatican’s new office for Integral Human Development.
And Popes have consistently appealed for reunification of the two Koreas, including John Paul II during his 1989 Korea visit and Francis in his 2014 visit.