By Vatican News
South and North Korea marked the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean war on Thursday amid tensions between the two countries.
To commemorate the occasion, Masses were celebrated in several South Korean dioceses as Catholics prayed for lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula. Churches followed strict coronavirus safety measures.
During the Mass at Seoul’s Myeongdong Cathedral, the Archbishop, Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, joined his voice to the many appeals for peace.
“I wanted to state that although achieving the true peace that we all want is a very difficult thing, it is absolutely not impossible,” Cardinal Yeum Soo-jung said.
His comments come amid recently increased tensions after North Korea blew up a South-Korean liaison office in Kaesong on 16 June. The office had been opened after the historic inter-Korean summit held in April 2018.
“When the politics of forgiveness is spread, justice becomes more humane and peace more everlasting,” he added.
Cardinal Yeum Soo-jung also prayed for all political leaders to “overcome personal, partisan and national interests” and to strive for the common good between the two countries.
Other appeals for peace
Bishop Lee Ki-heon, head of the Committee for Reconciliation of the Korean Bishops’ Conference issued a statement calling for peace and a definitive end to hostilities.
“Seventy years later, the time has come to overcome the ideological hatred that has set the parties against each other and prevented both countries from growing and developing freely,” Bishop Ki-heon said.
He noted that “progress in inter-Korean relations have not been made due to the UN sanctions toward North Korea and the Covid-19 situation.”
On June 25, 1950, North Korea invaded the South, sparking a war that killed millions before hostilities ended on 27 July 1953 with an armistice.
Hopes for peace seemed close in April 2018 after the “Panmunjom Declaration” signed by South Korean President Moon Jae-in and the leader of the North, Kim Jong-un.
Seventy years after the start of the war, however, relations between the two countries are still strained.