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With a plea for reunification, Pope ends Korean visit

August 18, 2014

Pope Francis concluded his 5-day visit to South Korea on August 18, celebrating a Mass for peace and reconciliation and calling for an end to the enmity between North and South that has caused “division and conflict which has lasted for well over sixty years.”

Noting that the people of North and South Korea speak the same language and share a common history, the Pope prayer for “new opportunities for dialogue,” and encouraged his listeners to “reject a mindset shaped by suspicion, confrontation and competition, and instead to shape a culture formed by the teaching of the Gospel and the noblest traditional values of the Korean people.”

The Pope’s plea for reconciliation appeared to fall on deaf ears in North Korea, however. As the Pontiff prepared to board his return flight to Rome, authorities in Pyongyang released a threat to attack the South. The North, which has launched several missiles into the sea in an unannounced show of force just before the papal visit, strenuously objected to the South’s plans for annual military exercises this week. A North Korean spokesman charged: “There is no sincerity in [South Korea’s] stated wish to mend cross-border relations.” Before celebrating his final Mass in South Korea, Pope Francis met with several elderly women who had been forced to act as “comfort women” for Japanese soldiers during World War II. The Pontiff spoke briefly with each of the women, giving them his blessing.


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