09/25/2015, 00.00
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Ecumenical prayer of Community of Taizé on border between the two Koreas

by Stephany Sun
The Community led a pilgrimage and the recitation of Vespers in Paju, a few kilometers south of the demilitarized zone, to pray for reconciliation between Seoul and Pyongyang. Young Catholics, Anglicans and Protestants, from Asia and Europe, attended the event. The organizer: "If we had done it in Seoul more people would come, but our aim is to be close to our brothers and sisters in the North."

Seoul (AsiaNews) - Young Catholics, Protestants and Anglicans gathered near the border between North Korea and South Korea and prayed for peace and reconciliation. Catholic, Protestant and Anglican young people gathered near the border between North and South Korea and prayed for peace and reconciliation.

The Taizé Community in Korea held a pilgrimage and vesper at the Church of Repentance and Atonement in Paju (a city located just south of Panmunjeom on the 38th parallel), welcoming young people from all Christian Churches and all countries to come and pray in unity for the peace and reconciliation of Korea.

“Reconciliation has always been the spirituality of our community,” said Brother Shin Han Yol of Taizé, the main coordinator of the event. “We have been praying for peace in Korea for over 40 years. Since 2013, we thought it would be nice to invite the young people—Catholic or not—to join in our prayer.”

“A pilgrimage,” he added, “symbolizes a journey. We do not stay in our comfort zones. We get up, step outside, and begin the journey of reconciliation. ”  More than 200 people participated in the Taizé vesper, including members from SFCS (Seoul Federation of Catholic Students) and the Christian Youth Academy. Young people from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, Myanmar, and France also came.

Brother Shin Han Yol said that one of the main purposes of the vesper is “to bring together people of different backgrounds to pray for the same intention: peace.” Through prayer service, the community hopes to “build bridges” between different religion and different countries.


Holding the Taizé vesper in Paju city also adds another significance to the event. “Our hope is to pray together with our brothers and sisters in North Korea,” Brother Shin Han Yol explained. “Since they cannot come here due to the difficulties of reality, we’ve decided to travel as close to them as possible. If the vesper was held in Seoul, we would probably receive much more participants. But that is not our purpose. Our purpose is to stay close with our brothers and sister of the North.”

Construction of the building began in 1997, when a group of Catholics who fled from North Korea decided to buy the land and donate it to their local church for the construction of a "sign of hope and peace." Since April 2006, the project has been supervised by the Archdiocese of Seoul, which has funded the work. Inside are the mosaics commissioned from artists Mansudae Art Studio, located in the North: they depict the martyrs of Pyongyang and the province of Hwanghae, the areas most affected by religious persecution. Instead the exterior was designed on the basis of the Jinsadong cathedral, built in 1926 and destroyed by communists.

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