10/13/2006, 00.00
SOUTH KOREA – NORTH KOREA
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Korean Church: "Shocked by nuclear test but against use of force as deterrent"

by Joseph Yun Li-sun

The presidents of the Episcopal Committees for Reconciliation of the Korean People and for Justice & Peace issued a joint message to say peace in the peninsula must be achieved through dialogue. No one should block the path towards reconciliation that was paved with so much effort.

Seoul (AsiaNews) – The recent announcement of the North Korea's nuclear experiment "brought great shock and concern to the Korean people and all those who love peace" but it is only "through dialogue and forgiveness that true peace can be achieved, not through the use of force or sanctions".

This was the thrust of a message issued today by the presidents of the Episcopal Committee for Reconciliation of the Korean People and the Committee for Justice and Peace, Mgr Lucas Kim Woon-hoe and Mgr Boniface Choi Ki-san.

In the message, entitled "Peace I Leave with You", the bishops wrote: "The recent announcement of North Korea's nuclear experiment gave great shock and concern to the Korean people and all those who love peace. We cannot but feel deep sorrow for the choice of our North Korean brethren who must cooperate with us to maintain the peace."

They continued: "Even if it was for self-defence, nuclear weapons cannot be justified in any way. In this regard, we have already made our position clear in a statement entitled 'We Want Peace, Not War!' issued on February 14, 2003 to oppose the attack on Iraq conducted by the US and motivated by the search for weapons of mass destruction."

The bishops recalled that "in recent years, the South and the North of the peninsula have maintained peaceful exchanges, through which we came to recognize each other as one people, brethren of the same blood. Hence no one should block the way of reconciliation paved through so much effort, nor should anyone turn back the streams of the peace and unity running through the Korean Peninsula. Furthermore, no one should make use of this situation to provoke hatred and confrontation."

The bishops said the only way towards peace in Korea lay in real implementation of the Joint Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsular adopted in 1991. "This can be achieved only through dialogue with patience. Hatred begets hatred and violence begets violence. The international society must walk the difficult way and respond with peace, not through military sanction or blockade. Peace can be achieved only through forgiveness and reconciliation."

They stressed: "Therefore, the Catholic Church in Korea firmly refuses any form of violence."

At the end of the message, the bishops "put our trust in Christ, our peace, without fear. We heartily wish that we could bring real peace in this country with all people working for peace together."

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