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    » 04/11/2005, 00.00

    NORTH KOREA – VATICAN

    N Koreans hold Mass for late Pope



    Pyongyang (AsiaNews/Agencies) - A memorial Mass for Pope John Paul II attended by about 100 people has been held in the only Catholic Church in North Korea's capital, Pyongyang.

    South Korean television aired footage of the Mass after being given the green light by the North Korean government.

    "When I first heard about the Pope passing away I was very surprised, although of course I knew already that he had been sick" said Kim Yong-il, a church official at the Chang Chung Church in Pyongyang.

    The state media waited until 5 April before finally announcing the death of the pontiff, three days after he died.

    At the church, established in 1988, regular prayer services are held every Sunday.

    North Korea does not have any seminaries to train its own priests, and the memorial for the Pope was reportedly celebrated by an ethnic Korean priest from the US.

    The North Korean Catholics' Association sent a message of condolence to the Vatican after learning of his death.

    Although the communist country's constitution provides for "freedom of religious belief", religious activity is discouraged by the government, considered among the most repressive in the world. According the authorities, there are some 3,000-4,000 Roman Catholics in North Korea, while a government-approved group based on a traditional religious movement allegedly has at least 10 times as many followers.

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    See also

    04/04/2005 CHINA – VATICAN
    Condolences for the Pope and new arrests of bishops and priests in Peking


    05/04/2005 Vatican – China
    Afraid of the pope, China closes its doors


    14/04/2005 SOUTH KOREA – NORTH KOREA – VATICAN
    The Pope's legacy in the two Koreas
    The memory of the martyrs, North-South reconciliation, human rights, and religious coexistence make up John Paul II's legacy in the second largest Church of Asia, according to a Seoul journalist.

    05/04/2005 vietnam - vatican
    Vietnamese honour the holy man who never visited them


    08/04/2005 VATICAN
    A million people attend John Paul II's funeral




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