Message from the President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea
Regarding the South Korea-United States Summit
and the North Korea-United States Summit on June 30, 2019
Today two leaders, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and United States President Donald Trump met in Seoul. Subsequently, President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Chairman of the NK State Affairs Commission, together with President Moon, met and shook hands in a show of peace at Panmunjeom, a place which symbolizes the division of the Korean Peninsula: this was a first since the armistice was declared 66 years ago. Today’s meeting took place four months after the breakdown of the NK-US summit in Hanoi, Vietnam in February. This meeting marks a historic milestone on the road to peace on the Korean Peninsula, in Northeast Asia, and the world. Such progress aims at achieving complete denuclearization and the building of a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula through dialogue. Together with all the Korean Catholic bishops and believers, I appreciate the courageous determination of President Moon, President Trump, and Chairman Kim in their efforts to restart talks for peace.
The 25th of June marked the 69th anniversary of the outbreak of the fratricidal Korean War. On the anniversary, the Catholic Church in Korea celebrated a ‘Day of Prayer for the Reconciliation and Unity of the Korean People’ with the ‘Mass for Peace on the Korean Peninsula.’ The Mass was offered with the theme, “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Mt 5,9), in Imjingak, a village bordering the DMZ in South Korea. In the Old Testament, the Israelites welcomed a new grace-filled era when they were liberated from their 70 years of Babylonian exile (cf. 2Chr 36,21). Inspired by this history, we, during the Mass, prayed that 2020, which will mark the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War, may become a new beginning for a blissful era. An era of peace and unity which will overcome the tragedy of national division through the ending of the Korean War and the declaration of a peace treaty on the Korean peninsula. Furthermore, the Catholic Church in Korea calls for the continuation of inter-Korean dialogue and exchanges, and also asks the international community for its support and encouragement. We sincerely desire that the SK-US Summit in Seoul and the NK-US Summit at Panmunjeom may result in good news, which will lessen anxiety and simultaneously increase hope, and ultimately increase trust in inter-Korean relations and the wider international situation.
Despite all the difficulties on the journey towards a lasting peace on the Korean peninsula and the development of international cooperation, we should continue to meet frequently and talk together with open minds. Then, the day of reconciliation and the unity of the Korean people will eventually come. The Catholic Church in Korea, in solidarity with the universal Church, continues to pray for those who work for peace on the Korea Peninsula. May God abundantly bestow blessings of courage and strength upon them, the peacemakers.
June 30, 2019
+ Hyginus Kim Hee-joong
Archbishop of Gwangju
President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea