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Catholics pray for peace and reconciliation on Korean Peninsula

Let us unite our hearts to achieve the love, forgiveness and true peace that Christ showed us on the cross, says Archbishop Chung

Catholics attend a special Mass for peace on the Korean Peninsula at Myeongdong Cathedral in South Korean capital Seoul on June 25

Catholics attend a special Mass for peace on the Korean Peninsula at Myeongdong Cathedral in South Korean capital Seoul on June 25. (Photo: Seoul Archdiocese)

Published: June 29, 2022 06:01 AM GMT

Updated: June 29, 2022 06:18 AM GMT

An archbishop has called on the South and North Korean governments to seek reconciliation as Catholics across South Korea joined prayers for peace and reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula.

“The South and the North Korean governments must find alternatives for peace on the Korean Peninsula and in northeast Asia, just as strengthening military power will never be the right option. Let us unite our hearts to achieve the love, forgiveness and true peace that Christ showed us on the cross,” said Archbishop Peter Chung Soon-taick of Seoul.

The prelate made the call during his homily at a special Mass for peace at Myeongdong Cathedral in South Korean capital Seoul on June 25 to mark the 72nd anniversary of the Korean War, according to a press release from Seoul Archdiocese.

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“Let us pray together that the day will come when the peace of mankind and the Korean Peninsula can be realized through the intercession of Our Lady who was conceived without original sin,” said Archbishop Chung, who also serves as the administrator of Pyongyang in North Korea.

North Korea’s state-run Korean Catholic Association claims the nation has about 3,000 Catholics, while independent observers say the number is about 800.

The Church must make renewed efforts for its mission for peace and harmony in a world engulfed by hostility and violence today, the prelate noted.

Korea’s first cardinal, Stephen Kim Sou-hwan, established the committee in 1995 with an aim to promote peace and reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula

“Although riots, wars, hostility and division around the world are constantly intensifying, the Church cannot turn away from or give up its mission for peace, harmony and unity on this planet. We, the Catholic Church in Korea, need to pray earnestly with all our hearts for reconciliation and unity between the two Koreas, as well as for an end to the tragic war in Ukraine,” he said.

Hundreds of Catholics joined the Mass along with priests, nuns and Monsignor Thomas Aquinas Choi Chang Hoa, former chairperson of the National Reconciliation Committee.

Korea’s first cardinal, Stephen Kim Sou-hwan, established the committee in 1995 with an aim to promote peace and reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula.

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea (CBCK) has made peace and reconciliation with North Korea a major pastoral priority. In 1965, the CBCK established June 25 as the annual Day of Prayer for national reconciliation and unification.

For the last 27 years, every Thursday at 7pm, Catholics at Myeongdong Cathedral have been attending a special Mass and prayer for reconciliation and unity of the Korean people.

Apart from Seoul, other dioceses such as Gwangju, Daegu, Incheon and others celebrated Mass and recited prayers for peace and unification on June 25.

Over the years, Catholic parishes have organized Masses, novenas, rallies, awareness programs and aid during droughts, famines and natural calamities for people in North Korea.

The Korean War ended with an armistice on July 27, 1953, creating the demilitarized zone (DMZ) and allowing for the return of prisoners. However, no peace treaty was signed, creating a silent power play between the nations

South Korean Catholic organizations and NGOs help North Korean defectors to settle in and build a new life.

The bishops have always been vocal about the need for peaceful resolution of the problems that divide the two countries. The Catholic Church in the South has always been at the forefront to send humanitarian aid to Koreans in the North.

In a recent meeting with South Korean Unification Minister Kwon Young-se, Archbishop Hyginus Kim Hee-jong of Gwangju stressed the need to increase humanitarian aid for North Korean people who are reeling under a severe drought and Covid-19 infections.

The Korean War ended with an armistice on July 27, 1953, creating the demilitarized zone (DMZ) and allowing for the return of prisoners. However, no peace treaty was signed, creating a silent power play between the nations.

Since 2018, three rounds of inter-Korean summits and two rounds of US-North Korean summits, as well as a meeting between then South Korean president Moon Jae-in, then US president Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, have revitalized the prospects of peace on the Korean Peninsula.

However, tension has increased in the region in recent weeks after a barrage of missile tests followed by media reports suggesting an impending nuclear test by the North.

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