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“Momentum for Peace”: Pope Francis invited to visit North Korea by Moon Jae-in | North Korea

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South Korean President Moon Jae-in made another attempt to get Pope Francis to visit North Korea, during a meeting at the Vatican where the two leaders discussed peace efforts, the government said. Yonhap news agency.

Moon gave Francis one of 136 crosses created with barbed wire from a fence in the DMZ, dividing across the peninsula for the past 68 years.

He said on Friday that if the Pope visited North Korea “when an opportunity presents itself,” such a trip would “give a boost to peace,” presidential spokesman Park Kyung-mee told the news agency. South Korean press.

Francois replied that he was ready to go if he received an invitation letter from Pyongyang, he added.

The Vatican said the pontiff discussed “promoting dialogue and reconciliation among Koreans” with Moon, who is in Italy for the G20 summit.

During Moon’s first meeting with the Pope in 2018, he addressed a verbal invitation from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to Francis to visit the North, which no Pope has done before. .

Francis also visited South Korea in 2014, and celebrated a mass in Seoul dedicated to reunification.

There are 5.9 million Catholics in South Korea, according to the Korean Conference of Catholic Bishops, which is one in nine of the population.

In the North, religious freedom is enshrined in the constitution but all religious activity is totally prohibited outside state sanctioned institutions.

At the start of the 20th century, Pyongyang was a regional missionary center with dozens of churches and a thriving Christian community, which earned it the title of “East Jerusalem”.

But Kim Il-sung, the former founding leader of the North and grandfather of the current leader, saw Christianity as a threat and eradicated it through executions and labor camps.

The northern regime has since allowed Catholic organizations to carry out aid projects in the impoverished country, but direct relations with the Vatican are non-existent.

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