08/19/2013, 00.00
KOREA - VATICAN
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For Daejeon bishop, the pope in Korea could lead to peace with North

by Joseph Yun Li-sun
On his return from World Youth Day, Francis announced a trip to Asia for 2014. Speaking to AsiaNews, Bishop Lazarus You Heung-sik said, "If he chose our country we would all be very happy. A visit by him to Korea would be a huge boost to missionary action, not only for the Korean Church but for all Asian Churches." South Korean authorities have already invited him. Even non-Catholics love him.

Daejeon (AsiaNews) - A visit by Pope Francis in Korea "would bring two exceptional results: first, a boost to the missionary action of our Church and those of Asia; secondly, a boost to talks for the reunification of the peninsula," said Mgr Lazarus You Heung-sik, bishop of Daejeon. He is just back from Brazil, where he took part in World Youth Day and a meeting with the bishops of the Focolare movement.

"We were 51 bishops," he said," "23 from Brazil, the rest from all over the world. We spent ten intense days of meditation and talk on this year's topic 'Love each other', as well as on what the pope said in Rio de Janeiro. Above all, as bishops, we reflected on the relevance of the Church in today's world, a notion that annot be relegated to the background, especially at a time like this."

Francis's example and message, Mgr You said, "are very important for Korea and Asia in general. One point that always surprises me a lot is his call to 'leave home', to go on the missio ad gentes. This is why I think that a visit to Korea would be a huge boost to missionary action, not only for the Korean Church but also for all Asian Churches. In any event, the Pope is impressive with people. He is a man who practices what he preaches, and this has very much impressed my country."

South Korea "has already invited the Pope, both the Bishops 'Conference and the government. Francis thanked them for the invitation and explained that next year's timetable has not yet been set. I am confident though that he will come. Even though we are waiting for this October's consistory, the beatification of the 124 Korean martyrs is almost certain next year. It would be wonderful if he was here in person for the celebration, which is very important to Korean Catholics."

Another fundamental issue the Pope could help with "is the relationship with North Korea. I am convinced that a man like him, with his way of doing things and the depth of his thought, could truly open relevant channels to arrive quickly to real peace and the reunification of the Korean peninsula."

Such a visit would even make non-Catholics happy. "All Koreans view positively Pope Francis. Even national media cover his activities with real interest. Protestant denominations," which are particularly assertive in Asia, "seem to have changed their views. They consider him a great pastor, so much as that there are many conversions to Catholicism. I really hope he comes."

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