Pope Francis tells S. Korean president he’ll travel to N. Korea for ‘cause of peace’ if invited

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Following a meeting at the Vatican, South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s office has stated that Pope Francis said he would visit North Korea for “the cause of peace” if invited, to help improve the pair’s relations.

Moon, in Rome for the G20 Summit, presented Pope Francis with a cross made of barbed wire from the Korean peninsula’s demilitarized zone before asking the Catholic leader to make a special visit to Pyongyang to help with the peace process.

After the private meeting, which lasted around 25 minutes, Moon’s office confirmed on Twitter that the South Korean leader had stated that: “If Your Holiness has the opportunity and pays a visit to North Korea, it will build momentum for peace on the Korean Peninsula.”

Pope Francis responded that “he would gladly visit” to help “the cause of peace” if he is formally extended an invite, adding that the two nations are “brothers who speak the same language,” according to Moon’s office.

Pres.Moon(@moonriver365) Holds One-on-one Meeting with Pope FrancisAt the meeting held in the Apostolic Palace, President Moon said, “If Your Holiness has the opportunity and pays a visit to North Korea, it will build momentum for peace on the Korean Peninsula." pic.twitter.com/an8Eb7Kjv4

— The Office of President Moon Jae-in (@TheBlueHouseENG) October 29, 2021

The Vatican confirmed the topic of “reconciliation between Koreans” was discussed during the meeting, alongside efforts that could be made to support “peace and development” and promote “fraternity” on the peninsula.

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Back in July, the head of South Korea’s intelligence service, Park Jie-won, confirmed that plans were underway to arrange a visit by Pope Francis to North Korea. Park stated that he’d met with Archbishop Kim Hee-jung of Gwangju and the Vatican’s ambassador to the country to discuss the topic, but did not specify a timeline for the trip.

If the pontiff did make a visit to Pyongyang, it would be the first ever papal visit to the reclusive state of North Korea, which does not allow public religious activity, despite guaranteeing citizens the right to freedom of religion. It’s not known how many Catholics are in North Korea. 

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