Message for the 2020 Day of Prayer for the Reconciliation and Unity of the Korean People (Summary)
Reconciliation and Peace on the Korean Peninsula
“[Christ] might reconcile both with God, in one body, through the cross, putting that enmity to death by it” (Eph. 2,16).
Dear brothers and sisters,
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War. Even after the passage of 70 years, the pain is still alive because of the devastating aftermath of the fratricidal war. Many people witnessed terrible sights that have been passed down from generation to generation. Thus in South Korea, for those who grew up receiving anticommunist education and hearing about the brutality of the communist party of North Korea, it cannot be easy to accept the legacy of the Korean War and the existence of the North Korean regime. Many hold animosity against the communist party of North Korea and hostility towards the North Korean regime. In our society, such antagonism might easily become the motivator for one’s political ideology and standpoint, like a barrier separating people into different groups or an obstacle preventing free and broader thinking. Now is the time to cut ourselves free from such national shackles.
During the Inter-Korean Summit at Panmunjeom in 2018, the leaders of South and North Korea jointly issued the ‘Panmunjeom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity and Reunification of the Korean Peninsula’. It was an exciting moment which gave us hope for a new start to a peaceful journey on the Korean Peninsula. However, the ‘Panmunjeom Declaration’ has not yet borne fruit. Peace on the Korean Peninsula is not only hindered by the inter-Korean problem, but responsibility must also be assigned to neighboring powerful nations and their self-interests in the Korean Peninsula.
To nurture peace on the Korean Peninsula, not an easy task, it is essential that the two Koreas join hands. There is no need to be overly concerned with, nor blame the great powers surrounding the Korean Peninsula. We, the Korean people, are the protagonists who can bring about peace on the Korean Peninsula. This year, the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War, should mark a new departure for our people, an opportunity to join hands, be reunified, and overcome the hostility and pain caused by the war.
In the meantime, the Catholic Church in Korea has been fervently praying for peace on the Korean Peninsula. On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Korean War, the Church in Korea invited the faithful to join in reciting the Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be with the intention for peace every evening at 9 p.m. The Church in Korea is now called to pray ardently so that war should never again break out on this land. In addition, we must strive to ensure that education and practical efforts for peace and reconciliation are actively promoted in every diocese and parish.
I urge the government to take actively advance inter-Korean relations by finding ways that do not conflict with economic sanctions against North Korea. In addition, I call for the government to undertake some essential initiatives: arranging reunions of separated families; reopening the Kaesong Industrial Complex, an area where southern companies have invested and where thousands of North Koreans work; resuming tourism to Mount Geumgang in North Korea; developing an inter-Korean railway connection project; supplying technology and equipment to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic. It is most important that a peace agreement on the Korean Peninsula should be reached and that an official declaration of the end of the Korean War be made. Such developments will have to be followed by an authentic peace treaty and new international relations.
I invite all the faithful to either physically or spiritually attend Mass for the Day of Prayer for the Reconciliation and Unity of the Korean People, which will be celebrated in every diocese in Korea on June 25, 2020. Our prayers will act as fertile rain encouraging the growth of peace on this land. May the mercy of the Lord be upon us who pray earnestly for peace on the Korean Peninsula.
June 25, 2020
+ Peter Lee Ki-heon
CBCK Committee for the Reconciliation of the Korean People