The institution was inaugurated by the bishop of Uijeongbu, Msgr. Peter Lee Ki-heon, "The Korean Catholics have a duty to work for the evangelization of the North". The area is also home to a cathedral "of repentance and reconciliation" and the national reconciliation center. The new Institute wants to "lay the foundations to spread Christ's peace in Asia and the world."
Uijeongbu (AsiaNews) - Korean Catholics "have a duty to work for the evangelization of North Korea. This task is all the more important the closer we get to the border, and we are very close. This institution will be a new base for cultivating peace in East Asia and even the world", said Msgr. Peter Lee Ki-heon, bishop of Uijeongbu, inaugurating the new Institute for Peace and Cooperation in Northeast Asia.
The ceremony was attended by several members of Parliament and deputy mayor of the city. The approximately 200 faithful present were addressed by Jung Se-hyun, former Minister for the Unification of Korea, on the topic "Reality and Predictions for peace in Asia." The new director of the center, Fr. Peter Kang Ju-seok, explained that "the Church's mission is to promote the peace of Christ worldwide".
Among the main aims of the Institute, governed by the diocese, will be to "actualize the Catholic concept of peace" and apply it to Korea, divided in two since the civil war of 1950. In addition to Catholics, Buddhist and Protestant Christian researchers will attend the institute and contribute in various fields including philosophy, politics, economics and literature.
The Diocese of Uijeongbu is at the "forefront" of the Church in the work of reconciliation, given its proximity to the border with the North. The new institute is located next to the Paju Cathedral "of repentance and reconciliation" which is decorated with mosaics made by North Korean artists and a symbol of the desire for reunification of the peninsula.
The area is also home, since 1997, to the Centre for National Reconciliation. This, run by the Catholic community, is home to refugees fleeing the Pyongyang regime who are welcomed and can take courses for social integration and to find employment. In addition, here new missionaries are trained in how to carry forth dialogue and religious exchanges with the North.