Peace today more than ever requires reflection and forgiveness, says the Archbishop of Seoul
At the forum for reconciliation held every year by the Catholic Church of Korea, Archbishop Chung expressed deep regrets for rising tensions in the peninsula. “No interest or political relationship should prohibit interfaith dialogue and exchanges”.
Seoul (AsiaNews) – The Korean Peninsula Peace-Sharing Forum 2022 was held on Saturday. The Catholic Church has organised this seminar every year since 2016 in the South Korean capital, bringing together priests, activists, and scholars from all over the world to reflect on the path of peace on the divided Korean Peninsula.
In his opening speech, Archbishop Peter Chung of Seoul said that “genuine forgiveness, reconciliation, and self-reflection is needed more than at any time in history.”
The theme of this year’s Forum was “Peace Awareness of the Catholic Church and Its Role for the Reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula.” The meeting comes at a time of rising tensions between the two Koreas, with North Korea carrying out more missile tests while the South Korean and US navies once again conduct joint military exercises.
As archbishop of Seoul, Mgr Chung is also apostolic administrator of Pyongyang. In his address, he said that he was “deeply regretful about the current situation on the Korean Peninsula”, yet hopeful that the Forum would provide “an opportunity to reaffirm the teaching of Pope Francis that no interest or political relationship should prohibit interfaith dialogue and exchanges.”
The prelate explained how the initiative by the Archdiocese of Seoul seeks to keep alive the call Francis addressed to the Korean Church in August 2014 in the Mass celebrated in Myeongdong Cathedral, where “prayed for inter-Korean dialogue and recommended that more humanitarian assistance be provided for North Koreans.”
Archbishop Alfred Xuereb, apostolic nuncio to Seoul, was also present at the forum held at the Songsin Theological Campus of the Catholic University of Korea.
“The Holy See does not fail to support Korea in its deepest aspirations, starting with the process of reconciliation and prosperity of the entire Korean Peninsula,” said Archbishop Xuereb in his address.
Citing the speech made by Pope Francis at the recent congress of religious leaders in Kazakhstan, he noted that peace “springs from fraternity, grows through struggle against injustice and inequality, and is built by reaching out to others.”
For his part, Kim Dae-hyeon, director of the Religious Affairs Office at the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, read a message from the government, expressing hope that initiatives such as the forum can “enhance understanding of the two Koreas and the international situation, and actively discuss the blossoming of lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.”