Pope: if Pyongyang invites me to visit, I won't say no
In the interview aired tonight by Seoul's national television station a blessing "for all Koreans: Christian and non-Christian, South and North." "You who have suffered so much from war: work for peace." The invitation to Korean priests: "You have so many priestly vocations in your country; think how good it is to go beyond its borders to become missionaries." To young people: "Never tire of doing good."
Seoul (AsiaNews) - "May the Lord be with you, bless you abundantly and gift you peace. My hearfelt address is for all Koreans: Christian and non-Christian, from the South or the North. May my blessing and my wish for peace reach everyone," Pope Francis said in an interview recorded at the Vatican and aired today in prime time by the main Kbs channel, South Korea's national broadcaster.
A half-hour broadcast on the eve of a particularly important event for the Catholic community in Seoul: the consistory during which tomorrow Francis will create Korean Msgr. Lazarus You Heung-sik, former archbishop of Daejeon and since June 2021 prefect of the Vatican's dicastery for the clergy a cardinal.
The interview - interspersed with images of recent trips to Mosul, Lesbos and among natives in Canada and appeals for peace in Ukraine - was also an opportunity to return to the topic of a possible trip to Pyongyang following the one he made to South Korea in 2014, marked by a strong appeal for reconciliation among "Korean brothers and sisters."
"I am just waiting for them to invite me," Francis responded to the interviewer's question. "As soon as I receive the invitation I will go to North Korea. In other words I am saying: invite me, I will not say no."
The pope stressed that "the purpose of these trips is always fraternity, I am a brother to all peoples" regardless of political or religious positions. "Francis of Assisi," he recalled, "said: brothers and sisters all, together. If there is no brotherhood there is war. And you know this, because you have suffered so much because of war." This reason is the pope would like to go to North Korea to "sow brotherhood, closeness, smiles, an outstretched hand."
Addressing the conflict in Ukraine, which is in its sixth month now, Francis commented that "we are living the third World War within a century, a madness. For me," he added, "the most serious problem is the production of weapons: if this stopped for a year with that money, problems like hunger and the lack of education of children would be solved. But the world chooses for children to be hungry, unschooled, slave laborers, in order to have weapons. It is madness."
Widening his gaze to other conflicts that have been bloodying countries such as Syria or Yemen for so many years, he called it "a scandal. Why," he pondered, "do we have to live fighting all the time? We do not believe in peace. But peace is a gift for which one must work every day: you Koreans know this well. I make an appeal: work for peace. It is really a vocation: happy are the peacemakers. Those who make war are not happy, nor do they make others happy."
On the life of the Church in South Korea, Pope Francis particularly addressed an invitation to his priests, "You have so many priestly vocations in Korea," he said, "they even advance. Have you never thought of leaving your country and being missionaries? Think about it you who have so many priests. Think about how good it is to go beyond that, to go on mission. It is a piece of advice."
Finally, the pontiff asked young Koreans to know how to hold the past and the future together: "Don't forget your roots: go and talk to your old people, your grandparents, because they are the roots. Then, however, you must go further, draw from those roots to bear fruit looking forward. Please: don't get tired of doing good. Because life is beautiful when you live it with a big heart, without borders."