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    » 12/07/2015, 00.00


    South Korean priests will be able to celebrate Mass in Pyongyang Cathedral

    A delegation of the Korean Bishops' Conference has returned after four days in Pyongyang. The announcement this morning in Seoul: the priests can celebrate Mass in the Changchung cathedral, the only Catholic church in North Korea. "Greater religious exchange" in coming years.

    Seoul (AsiaNews) - A delegation of South Korean priests "will be sent on a regular basis to North Korea to celebrate the major Catholic festivities. Moreover, channels of dialogue have been opened to improve religious exchanges between the two sides of the border in the coming years", the spokesman for the South Korean Bishops' Conference announced this morning at a press conference after the return of a delegation of four bishops and 13 priests to Pyongyang.

    The visit lasted four days and was on the back of an invitation of the North Korean Catholic Association. According to the Bishops Conference priests who visit the North will be able to celebrate Mass at the Changchung cathedral Pyongyang (see photo), the only Catholic church in the country. The meeting, the spokesman added, "laid the groundwork for increased cooperation and exchanges between the Catholics of Korea".

    The North Korean Constitution guarantees religious freedom, but in fact it is non-existent in the country. The only cult admitted is that of national leaders (the "father of his country" Kim Il-sung and his son Kim Jong-il), and the faithful of all religions face harsh penalties - and even shooting - if caught displaying “religious" behavior.

    There are three churches in the capital Pyongyang, two Protestant and one Catholic, but they are believed to be "smoke screens" for the few tourists who visit the country. There are no Catholic priests, Protestant pastors or Buddhist monks in North Korea.

    The Catholic Association of North Korea claims to have 3 thousand subscribers, but AsiaNews sources estimate that there are less than 800 and these are mostly the very old people, baptized before the Korean War (which broke out in 1950) who have no way to practice their faith. In some special occasions like Christmas, it is possible that the faithful meet exchange a greeting of "peace", but nothing more than that.

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    See also

    07/06/2006 NORTH KOREA
    After nearly 60 years, mssionary enters North Korea

    The story of Fr Hammond who is allowed to cross the 38th parallel twice a year. There are no priests in the country but there is a "Catholics' Association"; there are no religious symbols at its headquarters, only a photo of Kim Jong-il.

    30/03/2006 SOUTH KOREA – NORTH KOREA
    Card. Cheong: "I will do my utmost to host next WYD in Korea"

    The new cardinal has proposed the Korean peninsula as a candidate to host World Youth Day. "It would be very useful for new vocations among youth, who may consider the north as a field for their ministry."

    26/04/2006 SOUTH KOREA – NORTH KOREA
    Catholic delegation goes north for first time ever

    This is the first time the group of 61 people, lay and priests, visits the structures it funded over the past 11 years. For many analysts, the visit "raises hopes for an agreement allowing more religious freedom in the country".

    12/04/2006 SOUTH KOREA - NORTH KOREA
    Korean Church: a new cathedral rises on border with north

    The place of worship "is intended to be a tangible sign of the desire to live in full and lasting peace with our brothers in the north".

    18/08/2005 NORTH KOREA – SOUTH KOREA
    Archbishop of Seoul appeals for religious freedom in North Korea
    Speaking before a congregation of 20,000 people, Mgr Cheong Jin-suk, Archbishop of Seoul and Apostolic Administrator for Pyŏngyang, calls for religious freedom in the North, key to the country's social development.

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