01/22/2014, 00.00
VATICAN - SOUTH KOREA
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Fr Lombardi: pope considering trip to Korea

Holy See Press Office director says Francis might visit the Korean Peninsula to attend Asian Youth Day in August in Daejeon.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Pope Francis could make a visit to South Korea in 2014, Holy See Press Office director Fr Federico Lombardi told journalists this morning.

The pope is considering a visit to the Korean Peninsula as part of Asian Youth Day, which will take place in August in the Diocese of Daejeon.

On his way back from World Youth Day in Brazil, the bishop of Daejeon had told AsiaNews that the Bishops' Conference and the South Korean government were trying to get Francis to visit the Asian nation.

According to Mgr Lazarus You Heung-sik, a papal visit "would give new momentum to our missionary Church and the Churches of Asia, as well as help peace talks with North Korea."

Mgr You himself renewed the invitation in a letter to the pope in which he presented Youth Day, an event that will bring together young Catholics from all over the continent.

South Korea's Catholic Church and Catholic community strongly hope that the Pope will visit their country.

This year, plans are underway for two events of great importance for the Church in South Korea and Asia. In addition to Asian Youth Day, a decree of beatification is expected for 124 "new" South Korean martyrs, and Francis himself might beatify them in person.

On his way home from his trip to Brazil, the Pope had told reporters that he planned to visit Asia in 2014. "I have been invited to go to Sri Lanka and also to the Philippines. But I must go to Asia. Because Pope Benedict did not have time to go to Asia, and it is important. He went to Australia and then to Europe and America, but Asia . . ."

In his recent New Year's Greetings to the diplomats accredited with the Holy See, the pope said, "On this, the fiftieth anniversary of diplomatic relations with the Republic of Korea, I wish to implore from God the gift of reconciliation on the peninsula, and I trust that, for the good of all the Korean people, the interested parties will tirelessly seek out points of agreement and possible solutions.

Another sign of the pope's interest towards Korea is his decision to name Mgr Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, archbishop of Seoul and apostolic administrator of Pyongyang, to the post of cardinal.

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