The Archbishop of Seoul wants to invite North Korean youth to World Youth Day 2027

(Reposted from: Herald Malaysia Online. November 21, 2023.

By Herald Malaysia Online

SEOUL: Archbishop Peter Soon-taick Chung wants to invite some young North Koreans to World Youth Day in Seoul in 2027. He made the suggestion at the Eighth Korean Peninsula Peace-Sharing Forum held in November 2023 at the Songsin Theological Campus of the Catholic University of Korea.

“Despite the bitter skepticism of some, we must not and cannot give up reconciliation if we want peace,” he said.

The event was promoted by the Reconciliation Committee established by the Archdiocese of Seoul in 1995 under then Archbishop Card Stephen Kim Sou-hwan. This year’s theme was “Ways Leading to Reconciliation and Peace on the Korean Peninsula”.

Over the years, the Committee has undertaken out various initiatives such as humanitarian aid for the people of the North, aid to North Korean refugees living in South Korea, and peace education together with the active search for peace.

In his opening remarks at the Forum, Director Hong Yong-Pyo, professor of political science at Hanyang University, insisted on the term reconciliation as a key word for peace. “Despite the bitter skepticism of some, we must not and cannot give up reconciliation if we want peace,” he said.

Citing Pope Francis’s blessing on the 70th anniversary of the armistice agreement that ended the Korean War, Prof Hong expressed the hope that the forum could make even the smallest contribution to the “ways leading to reconciliation and peace.”

In his address, Archbishop Peter Soon-taick Chung of Seoul, who is also apostolic administrator of Pyongyang, noted the fundamental “role of the Catholic Church as a mediator and reconciler for reconciliation and peace on the Korean Peninsula” amid “problems unsolved for 70 years since the Armistice Agreement such as separated families, political and military confrontations”.

Dr Kim Sun-pil, senior researcher at the Sogang University Institute for Theology, stressed the progress made by the Korean Church’s national reconciliation movement, promoted for mutual forgiveness and reconciliation between brothers in North and South Korea.

“The Korean Church had been hostile to North Korea after the Korean War but after the visit of Pope John Paul II to South Korea [. . .] the Korean Church established the North Korea Missionary Committee, which later became the National Reconciliation Committee,” Prof Kim said. In the 1980s, Pope John Paul II showed great interest in the Church in North Korea.

In his closing remarks, Archbishop Peter Chung said that “it is unfortunate that there are no youth participants,” but added that he will “seek ways to engage our youth right from the designing and planning period of the forum next year, which is very important in terms of peace education for them.”

The prelate added that he believes that missionary work in North Korea is his calling, not only as apostolic administrator of Pyongyang but also as a citizen.

In closing, he reiterated that he would work to put into practice his commitment to the North Korean mission, including support for North Korean refugees.Asia News

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