The South Korean Presidential Office has announced that Pope Francis has received a formal invitation from North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un to visit their capital, Pyongyang.
Next week on the 17th, South Korean President Moon Jae-in will travel to the Vatican to participate in a Mass celebrated for peace on the Korean Peninsula in Saint Peter’s Basilica. A Catholic himself, he has an audience with Pope Francis the day after where she will personally deliver the invitation to the supreme pontiff.
During the most recent summit between Korean leaders in September, Kim Jong-un told President Moon that he would “greatly welcome” Pope Francis to Pyongyang, according to South Korea’s presidential office.
“During the meeting with Pope Francis, [Mr Moon] will relay the message from chairman Kim Jong-un that he would ardently welcome the Pope if he visits [the North Korean capital] Pyongyang.”
South Korean Bishops have been leading Catholics in prayer for an end to political tension and to bring unity to the divided Korean peninsula for over five decades:
“Since 1965, the Korean Catholic Church has been praying for the true peace of the two Koreas and the reconciliation of the nation. Through these prayers, something miraculous is happening in this land by the help of God, for whom nothing will be impossible. Until the day when complete peace is established on the Korean Peninsula and divided peoples are united, the Catholic Church of Korea will accompany the journey for reconciliation of the people in unity.”
Today, the Holy See and North Korea have no formal diplomatic relations. Pope Francis’ would be the first pope to set foot north of the DMZ, as Pope John Paul II was once invited but declined.