Jeju (AsiaNews) -
Francis' visit to South Korea "comes at a propitious and important
time, not only for the Church and Korean society, but also for the whole
Asia-Pacific region. I am convinced that the pontiff will be an
apostle of peace who will be able to calm the tensions of this period," said Mgr
Kang U-il, bishop of Jeju and president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of
For Mgr Kang,
the trip's most important results will obviously be in the area of evangelisation.
In fact, "I have no doubt that the visit will renew the Christian message
"Pope John Paul
II's two visits (in 1984 and 1989) took place at a happy time for the Korean
Church and evangelisation," the prelate said.
On both occasions,
"Many people converted, and many others became interested in the faith,
motivated by the words of the missionary pope. This time, we expect the same thing."
"At present, not
are Catholics waiting for him, but so is Korean society as a whole. People have
a very positive feeling toward Francis. I believe this trip will do a lot of
good to people, not only to our Church."
Many people, the
prelate explained, "are waiting for the papal visit, hoping that it might
bring true peace to this land, a country that is divided into two parts, where
we have lived under constant tensions for more than 60 years. We know very well
what is happening in the North, but there is nothing we can do about in political
and diplomatic terms. Everything is at a standstill."
For this reason,
"We feel the need for something special to end this crisis. Francis' visit
could bring an atmosphere of reconciliation not only between the two Koreas,
but also across Asia, even between China, Japan and Korea, who are going
through a very difficult time from the point of view of their relations. "
At the same, the
pope's pilgrimage to Korea could also help dialogue within South Korea. "I
hope the visit will bridge the gap between the government and the opposition,"
the prelate said.
"Now, a year since
Park's administration took over, things have deteriorated domestically and our democracy
is showing signs of deterioration. Let us hope that the pope's trip will create
a new atmosphere, and provide new opportunities for peaceful dialogue on this
issue. Let us hope that the government will change its minds on various
political issues, and begin listening to others, opening up to proposals that
are positive for everyone."