Pope Francis on Thursday obtained an invite to go to North Korea and the pontiff indicated that he would contemplate making what can be a landmark journey to the hermit nation, based on South Korean officers.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in relayed the invitation from North Korean chief Kim Jong Un to the pope verbally throughout a 35-minute assembly within the Vatican.
Any go to can be the primary by a pope to the reclusive state which doesn’t enable clergymen to be completely stationed there. There may be little info on what number of of its residents are Catholic, or how they observe their religion.
Kim advised Moon, a Catholic, of his want to meet the pontiff throughout a gathering final month and the South Korean chief introduced earlier than the journey that he can be relaying a message..
In line with the president’s workplace, Francis expressed his sturdy assist for efforts to convey peace to the Korean peninsula. Moon’s workplace quoted the pope as telling Moon: “Don’t cease, transfer ahead. Don’t be afraid.”
Requested if Kim ought to ship a proper invitation, Moon’s workplace quoted the pope as responding to Moon: “your message is already ample however it might be good for him to ship a proper invitation.”
“I’ll undoubtedly reply if I get the invitation, and I can go,” the president’s workplace quoted the pope as saying.
The pope is predicted to be in Asia throughout a visit to Japan subsequent 12 months.
A Vatican assertion made no point out of the verbal invitation from Kim.
It spoke solely of “the promotion of dialogue and reconciliation between Koreans” and “the frequent dedication to fostering all helpful initiatives to beat the tensions that also exist within the Korean Peninsula, with a purpose to usher in a brand new season of peace and improvement.”
The 2 Koreas have held three summits this 12 months. Kim additionally held an unprecedented summit with U.S. President Donald Trump in Singapore in June, and promised to work towards denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
Any journey to the North, nonetheless temporary, might be contentious for the pope.
North Korea’s structure ensures freedom of faith so long as it doesn’t undermine the state. However past a handful of state-controlled locations of worship, no open non secular exercise is allowed.
Aides near the pope have stated he’s open to taking what they name first steps in locations the place the Church has been persecuted within the hope that the state of affairs may enhance.
Church officers estimate that North Korea had a Catholic neighborhood of about 55,000 simply earlier than the 1950-53 Korean Battle.
Spiritual businesses have estimated the quantity remaining from the few a whole lot to about four,000.