The Apostolic Nuncio to Korea and Mongolia, Archbishop Alfred Xuereb on June 12, 2018, hailed as “truly historic” the summit between the leaders of the U.S. and North Korea, saying the Church is “full of hope and confidence” but warning we’re still at the beginning of a long process.
Speaking from Seoul in an interview with Vatican News, Archbishop Xuereb said that the Korean people and the local Church had been anxiously awaiting “these truly historic events.” He described the summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as “marking an important page at the beginning of a long and arduous road” (towards peace).
At the same time, said Archbishop Xuereb, “we are hopeful because this beginning was very positive, very good” and we’ve moved from rhetoric and words like “fire and fury” and “the complete devastation of North Korea” to more conciliatory words that speak about peace.
On May 13, priests from North Korea, religious, lay people, families with relatives, North Korean refugees, asylum seekers and members of the campaign, launched by some faithful, took part in the special nocturnal celebration held in the “Garden of Mary”, within the complex of Myeongdong Cathedral in Seoul in order to “recreate a parish” in North Korea.
All those present lit candles and prayed the Holy Rosary to ask for peace on the Korean peninsula. In his homily, Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-Jung, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Seoul and the Apostolic Administrator of Pyongyang, invited to pray together for peace on the Korean peninsula and the proclamation of the Gospel in North Korea, saying: “Every time we have faced challenges and difficulties in history, the Korean Church has overcome them by praying with the Virgin Mary. It is no coincidence that the Patroness of the Diocese of Pyongyang is the Queen of Peace”
Saying the Church in Korea is living these events “with great faith,” the Nuncio described how the Catholic Cathedral in Seoul has been holding special prayers for peace and reconciliation every Tuesday. He also said the Catholic Bishops of Korea have proposed a novena from the 17th to the 25th of June to pray for peace, reconciliation, and unity on the Korean peninsula.
In the wake of this historic summit and the more conciliatory climate engendered by it, Archbishop Xuereb said the Church prays for the evangelization of North Korea.
“The Holy See wishes to offer its support to any initiative in favor of dialogue and reconciliation and also to take advantage of this to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to North Korea,” he said.