Pope Supports Reconciliation Process Between the Koreas

John Paul II Hopes That Outside Concerns Don´t Interfere

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 14, 2002 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II encouraged the process of reconciliation between North and South Korea, when he received Seoul´s new ambassador to the Vatican.

In a speech today addressed to Hyun-seop Seo, 58, a career diplomat, the Holy Father said that Korea «is at a very delicate stage of relations between North and South.»

«We must hope that the recent evidence of good will and progress, however tenuous, will be allowed to mature and will not be hampered by concerns not directly related to the well-being of the Korean people as a whole,» the Pope said.

The Bishop of Rome referred to the «significant shift in the peninsula as the governments of Seoul and Pyongyang move toward the reconciliation of the entire Korean nation, whatever form the political settlement may eventually take.»

«This is a difficult and complex process, with important implications for the region and the world as a whole,» the Pontiff stated.

John Paul II suggested two key principles for reconciliation: «dialogue and solidarity.»

«To speak of dialogue and solidarity is implicitly to echo what I stressed in this year´s Message for the World Day of Peace, to which you yourself have referred: that there can be no peace without justice, and no justice without forgiveness,» he said.

«The Catholic Church in Korea is deeply committed to bearing witness to the inseparability of justice, forgiveness and peace, in order to help all Koreans to pursue the path of dialogue and solidarity, which alone will lead to a new era of concord,» the Holy Father stressed.

Since the signing of the 1953 armistice, which ended a three-year conflict, Korea has been divided at the 38th parallel: the Marxist North and the South, open to the West. The border not only separates two radically opposed forms of government, but also thousands of families, relatives and friends.

The process of reconciliation was launched at an unprecedented meeting in Pyongyang in June 2000 between South Korean President Kim Dae-Jung, the country´s first Catholic to hold the office, and North Korean leader Kim Jong II.

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