File photo of Pope Francis with young people in South Korea in 2014 File photo of Pope Francis with young people in South Korea in 2014 

Pope's message to Koreans: be prophets of peace

Pope Francis encourages Koreans to always promote peace in a message he sent on 27 July, for the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the signing of the Korean Armistice Agreement.

By Vatican News

"The numerous wars and armed conflicts that afflict the human family today, and especially our most vulnerable brothers and sisters, tragically show the need for constant vigilance to defend and promote justice and friendly cooperation within communities and between peoples".

These words of the Pope resounded yesterday, 27 July, in the centre of Seoul, between the vaults of Myeong-dong Cathedral, on a special day in the lives of South and North Koreans. Seventy years ago, an armistice was reached to bring a complete cessation of hostilities of the Korean War, on  27 July 1953, even if from then on, tension has continued to ripple across the peninsula divided by the 38th parallel.

Peace is based on respect for each person

During the Mass for peace celebrated in the Cathedral, South Korean Cardinal Lazarus You Heung-sik, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Clergy, was present and read Pope Francis' message addressed to the president of the Korean Bishops' Conference, Bishop Matthias Ri Iong-hoon of Suwon.

The Pope invited "all Koreans to become 'prophets' of peace", recalling that it "is based on respect for each person, whatever his or her history, on respect for law and the common good, for the creation entrusted to us and for the moral wealth transmitted by past generations".

Reconciliation for the Korean peninsula and the whole world

"I am spiritually close to you," said the Pope. "For the bishops, priests, religious and laity of your land, may this anniversary be an occasion to renew their commitment to building the Kingdom of Almighty God, which is full of 'justice, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit' (Rom 14:17)"

Concluding his message, the Pope expresses his hope that the commemoration of the Armistice Agreement will indicate not only "the cessation of hostilities, but also a bright future of reconciliation, brotherhood and lasting harmony not only for the Korean peninsula but also for the rest of the world."

Pope Francis' trip to Korea in 2014

On 18 August 2014, Pope Francis himself had presided over a Mass for peace and reconciliation in this Cathedral during his trip to Korea, leaving this message in his homily.

"I ask you to bear a convincing witness to Christ's message of reconciliation in your homes, in your communities and in every sphere of national life (...) Let us therefore pray for the emergence of new opportunities for dialogue, encounter and overcoming differences, for continued generosity in providing humanitarian assistance to those in need, and for an ever-widening recognition of the reality that all Koreans are brothers and sisters, members of one family and one people."

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28 July 2023, 13:47