The Catholic Church and the Korean government intend to work together for peace, reconciliation, and the reunification of the Korean peninsula: this was confirmed by the Archbishop of Seoul, Msgr. Peter Chung Soon-taick OCD, and Korean Unification Minister, Lee In- young, during a recent meeting at the Archbishop’s office, attached to Myeongdong Cathedral in Seoul. As a note from the Archdiocese Communications Office reported to Fides, during the meeting, which took place on January 19, Archbishop Chung said: “As Apostolic Administrator of Pyongyang, I would like to express my gratitude to President Moon Jae-in for asking the Holy Father to pray for peace on the Korean peninsula during his visit to the Vatican”.
The Prelate also praised the exhibition entitled “Barbed wire becomes a symbol of Peace”, organized by the Ministry of Unification of the Republic of Korea, which was opened to the public in Rome last autumn, on the occasion of President Moon Jae-in’s visit, which was greatly appreciated by South Koreans. Minister Lee returned the favor by sending a congratulatory message to Archbishop Chung and noted that the Pope “brought comfort and consolation to all Koreans”. The Minister expressed appreciation for the efforts of the Archdiocese of Seoul, which has carried out initiatives such as providing humanitarian aid to North Korea through various channels, including helping North Korean refugees in South Korea. The Church in Korea, Lee recalled, has implemented peace and cultural awareness initiatives, such as the “Peace Pilgrimage” during which young people from all over the world visited the Demilitarized Zone, or the annual international conference “Korean Peninsula Peace-sharing Forum”, which provided an opportunity to reflect on issues such as reconciliation and peace. The Korean government, he remarked, asks the Korean Catholic Church “to continue to play an important role in achieving peace between the two Koreas”.
At the end of the meeting, Archbishop Chung introduced and presented the special program entitled “The Korean Peninsula and the Synodal Path to Peace in 2022: Commemoration, Communication, Communion” and other humanitarian assistance initiatives aimed at North Korea, asking for the cooperation of the government. The Ministry of Unification was established in South Korea on March 1, 1969, as the governing body of the Republic of Korea, responsible for all matters relating to inter-Korean relations and unification.
The Korean peninsula had been officially divided into two parts since 1953, at the end of the Korean War, which ended with an armistice that is still technically in force.