Seoul Forum of Church leaders in Asia to “pave the way for the Korean Peninsula'

This is the third forum for peace-sharing, centred on human dignity and peace. For Card Yeom, the true mission of the Church in Asia is the realisation of true humanity and the evangelisation of the Korean Peninsula and the Asian continent. Religious leaders will visit Panmunjom.


Seoul (AsiaNews) – Cardinals, archbishops and bishops of the Catholic Church in Asia met in Seoul to share peace and prepare the Korean Peninsula for it. They did so at the third Korean Peninsula Peace-sharing Forum, held yesterday at the Catholic University of Seoul Seonghsin Campus. This edition’s topic was ‘Human dignity and Peace, Paving the way for the Korean Peninsula’.

Card Andrea Yeom Soo-Jung, archbishop of Seoul and apostolic administrator of Pyongyang, opened the forum with his keynote speech. He was followed by the Papal Nuncio, Mgr Alfred Xuereb, as well as several cardinals from all over Asia. Culture Minister Do Jong-hwan spoke on behalf of the South Korean government.

In his address, Card Yeom cited Pope Francis who during his trip to South Korea in 2014, said, "your Christian communities are indeed a pusillus grex, a small flock which nonetheless is charged to bring the light of the Gospel to the ends of the earth."

Subsequently, the cardinal stressed the need for Asian Churches to show solidarity to each other and cooperate to fulfil the true mission of realising true humanity and evangelising the Korean Peninsula and the Asian continent.

The forum was divided into four sessions, two in the morning on ‘human dignity’ and two in the afternoon on ‘life in oneness’ and ‘life in peace’.

Card Oswald Gracias (India) and Card Antonio Luis Tagle (Philippines) spoke in the first session. The archbishop of Bombay (Mumbai) emphasised the need to create a "culture of peace”, whilst the archbishop of Manila reiterated that "peace comes when you are one with God”.

The second session heard the speeches of Card Charles Maung Bo (Myanmar) and Mgr Sebastian Francis Shaw (Pakistan). Card Bo stressed that peace cannot be accomplished without respect for human dignity. He added that that the Church is the "guardian of human dignity" and is called to be the voice of those who suffer. "Speaking of uncomfortable truths is part of the mandate to be Church today."

Mgr Shaw spoke about religious hatred in his country. "I always tell my faithful that we were born in Pakistan and that God has a special plan for us; otherwise, we would have been born some other part. So we must be brave and not lose hope. We are the peacemakers and healers of society."

In the afternoon, participants involved in society and university officials addressed the forum, focusing on important topics for today's South Korea, most notably North Korean refugees, multicultural families, an aging society, inequality and even the problem of human rights in Asia.

In the coming days, the religious leaders who attended the forum will visit the village of Panmunjom, on the border between the two Koreas, to participate in a special meeting organised by Catholic Peace Broadcasting to carry out activities for peace.

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