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2014-08-18

ASIA/SOUTH KOREA - The Bishops: "The hug towards the disabled: the most significant moment of the Pope's visit"

Seoul (Agenzia Fides) - The Pope's visit was "a success for the faith, for the media coverage, for the organization". Bergoglio has left "an indelible mark" in the Catholic and non-Catholic faithful. But if one were to report "the most significant moment, which will remain engraved in the memory of the Koreans, that is the visit to the 'Village of Flowers', where he met, embraced and cherished the young abandoned and disabled": This is what Mgr. Peter Kang U-il, Bishop of Cheju and President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea reported to Fides Agency, tracing an overall evaluation of the Pope's trip (14-18 August).
The Bishop explained to Fides: "Pope Francis has left a favorable impression on all the Korean people. He lived with us unforgettable moments such as the beatification of the Korean Martyrs. But that to the 'Village of Flowers' (Kkottongnae in Seoul) was a very special visit. The Pope wanted to greet them one by one, and there he spent much more time than expected, about an hour.
For this reason he had to skip the celebration of the Vespers in the encounter with the religious. Pope Francis said that it is important to pray, but what is equally important is the attention to the last, the young ones. I too was very surprised by this spontaneity. The Pope wanted to emphasize his closeness to the weak: this is an important message for our Christian community in Korea". What will this approach leave for the Church in Korea? "For us it means that spirituality should be combined with the attention to others, especially the marginalized.
The Pope’s concrete attitude, his closeness with the young will give a new impetus to the whole Church in Korea". All the Koreans, the Bishop continued, "pose a fundamental question today, after Pope Bergoglio’s visit to the Village of Flowers, which has had wide media coverage".
"Among other significant moments, there was the hug to the families of victims of the ferry disaster in Sewol. The Pope stopped a few minutes with them. He simply embraced and shared their suffering for a few minutes. Without words, but remaining a few minutes next to them. A strong sign of spiritual closeness that we will not forget".
Bergoglio’s visit, stressed Mgr. Kang U-il in the final press conference, "has sent a message to young people in Asia: wake up and be vigilant" and then spoke to the Korean society recalling that "poverty cannot be fought only with sterile forms of charity". "Peace on the Korean Peninsula - said the bishop - will start by sharing a mindset based on fraternity, we need to walk with our brethren, in the presence of God". (PA) (Agenzia Fides 18/08/2014)

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