By Courtney Grogan
Pope Francis prayed for peace and the successful outcome of the meeting Sunday between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the DMZ.
“In the last few hours we have witnessed a good example of the culture of encounter in Korea,” Pope Francis said June 30 at the end of his Angelus address.
“I greet the protagonists, with the prayer that this significant gesture constitutes a further step on the path of peace, not only on that peninsula, but in favor of the whole world,” the pope said.
Trump became the first sitting U.S. president to set foot in North Korea when he crossed the demarcation line that divides the Korean peninsula in the demilitarized zone, or DMZ, June 30.
In an unexpected meeting at the DMZ — seemingly the result of a Twitter invitation from the American president to the North Korean dictator a day prior — Trump and Kim spoke for nearly an hour and agreed to resume nuclear negotiations.
It was the third face-to-face meeting between Trump and Kim in just over one year. After their historic first meeting in Singapore in June 2018, nuclear negotiations between the two countries stalled when their second meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam in February was cut short after North Korea demanded an end to all economic sanctions.
Last week, South Korea’s bishops celebrated Mass for 20,000 Catholics near the DMZ with prayers for peace and reconciliation for the divided peninsula on the 69th anniversary of the start of the Korean War.
“When I visited Pyongyang in 2011, the top officials in North Korea emphasized that the best way to keep the peace on the Korean Peninsula is not to be a state-of-the-art weapon or nuclear missile, but a mutual trust through forgiveness and reconciliation,” Archbishop Hee-Jung Kim, Chairman of the Korean Catholic Bishops’ Conference said June 25 in his message for the Mass.
North Korea has consistently been ranked the worst country for persecution of Christians by Open Doors. Christians within the atheist state have faced arrest, re-education in labor camps, or, in some cases, execution for their faith.
Pope Francis sent a video message to the leaders of South and North Korea in April expressing his hope for a future of peace and unity or the peninsula.
“Through patient and persistent efforts, the pursuit of harmony and concord can overcome division and confrontation,” Francis said.
In his Angelus address June 30 Pope Francis said the “Church by its nature is in movement” because it is sent to “bring the Gospel to the streets” and reach the peripheries.
“The urgency to communicate the Gospel, which breaks the chain of death and inaugurates eternal life … requires readiness and availability,” he said.
“May the Virgin Mary, icon of the Church on the way, help us to follow the Lord Jesus with joy and to announce to the brothers, with renewed love, the Good News of salvation,” Pope Francis said.