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Pope Francis gets invite to North Korea – he is willing to visit

Reuters reported, that Pope Francis on Thursday received an invitation to visit North Korea and the pontiff indicated that he would consider making what would be a landmark trip to the hermit nation, according to South Korean officials.



South Korean President Moon Jae-in relayed the invitation from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to the pope verbally during a 35-minute meeting in the Vatican. 

Any visit would be the first by a pope to the reclusive state which does not allow priests to be permanently stationed there. Following a similar invitation for the then-Pope John Paul II to visit North Korea, the Vatican said a papal trip would only be possible if Catholic priests were accepted there.

Kim told Moon, a Catholic, of his wish to meet the pontiff during a meeting last month and the South Korean leader announced before the trip that he would be relaying a message. Last week, the president’s office said he was told by Kim Jong Un that the Catholic leader would be “enthusiastically” welcomed in Pyongyang.

According to the president’s office, Francis expressed his strong support for efforts to bring peace to the Korean peninsula. Moon’s office quoted the pope as telling Moon: “Do not stop, move forward. Do not be afraid.”

Asked if Kim should send a formal invitation, Moon’s office quoted the pope as responding to Moon: “your message is already sufficient but it would be good for him to send a formal invitation.”

“I will definitely answer if I get the invitation, and I can go,” the president’s office quoted the pope as saying.

A visit from the Pope to North Korea would be the first of its kind in a country that strictly controls all religious activities. North Korea is ranked as the most oppressive place in the world for Christians by religious freedom watchdog Open Doors. Anybody engaged in religious practice is subject to arrest, torture and possible public execution if discovered by the authorities.

Sources: Reuters, Premier UK, Persecution

Photo: Vatican Media

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