Towards a Mediation of the Holy See for Peace in Korea

Source: FSSPX News

Bishop Hyginus Kim Hee-jong (on the right).

With North Korea multiplying its military provocations, the new South Korean President Moon Jae-in sent a special envoy to the Holy See to ask the pope to make his influence known in a future process of reconciliation in the peninsula.

The last presidential elections in South Korea, held on May 9, 2017, were won by a man who makes no secret of his attachment to Catholicism: Moon Jae-in, whose program includes a policy of dialogue and reconciliation with Pyongyang. This is the opposite of his predecessor, Park Geun-hye, who was deposed last December after a resounding corruption scandal.

Less than a month after his election, Moon Jae-in decided to send the President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea, Archbishop Hyginus Kim Hee-jong, archbishop of Gwangju, to the Vatican.

When questioned by CNA, Archbishop Kim Hee-jong declared he “was sent by the president to ask the Holy Father for his support in the reconciliation process between North and South Korea”. And he added, “I hope the Vatican can act as a mediator,” mentioning the role the Holy See played in the restoration of relations between Cuba and the Unites States.

President Moon Jae-in’s envoy was able to meet with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, on May 23, and with the pope on May 26, at the end of his morning Mass in Domus Sanctae Marthae.

In the opinion of the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea, “dialogue is the only way. Pyongyang is trying to show its military strength, but we have to keep engaging in dialogue. If North Korea becomes open to dialogue, tensions in the Korean peninsula will drop.”

All throughout his electoral campaign, candidate Moon Jae-in kept repeating that he would use every means at his disposal to bring peace back to the peninsula. In South Korea, Christians —especially Catholics, who are very involved in their country’s political life— have spent the past few years multiplying their initiatives for peace and reconciliation.

This search for a reconciliation process surely explains the recent re-launch of the beatification process of several Korean martyrs, some of whom met their death in the 18th and 19th centuries, others in the 20th century, including Bishop Francis Hong Yong-ho, bishop of Pyongyang, who was martyred by the North Korean Communist regime.

In the beginning of June, Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, archbishop of Seoul, who passed by the Vatican to ratify an agreement with the Secretariat for Communications, explained how the process of beatification could serve the cause of peace: “Even on their bed of pain, the martyrs prayed for their persecutors. That is the message we offer to humanity: love for our enemies as Christ has taught us.”

The Cardinal added: “The martyrs did not wish to be a barrier, but rather a bridge with the North. I am convinced that in North Korea, there are still ‘hidden Christians’ who keep the Faith. This beatification will be a sign of great hope for all. There may not be any short-term results, but it will be useful in the long run, all in God’s Providence.”

Doubtless the intercession of Our Lady of Fatima and of the Korean martyrs in favor of the Holy See’s diplomatic activity in the region will one day win out over the clamor of weapons and division in the Land of the Morning Calm.