ASIA/SOUTH KOREA - Walking the path of forgiveness: a month of prayer for North-South relations

Tuesday, 27 June 2023 prayer   reconciliation  

Seoul (Agenzia Fides) - "Walking the path of forgiveness": with this expression and with this spiritual attitude the Church in South Korea celebrated, on June 25, the special "Day of prayer for national reconciliation", on the occasion of the 73rd anniversary of the start of the Korean War (1950-1953), thus inaugurating a time of prayer and reflection that will last until July 27, the date of the 70th anniversary of the armistice that ended the armed confrontation. Archbishop Peter Soon-Taick Chung OCD, Archbishop of Seoul and Apostolic Administrator of Pyongyang, celebrated the solemn Eucharist in the Seoul Cathedral, urging the faithful to pray together so that "South Korea and North Korea may walk the path of reconciliation and forgiveness with courage". Forgiveness is the key word, according to the Archbishop. Referring to the passage from the Gospel of Matthew (Mt 18, 21-35) in which Jesus invites us to "forgive seventy times seven", Msgr. Chung stressed that "it is urgent that we follow the path of forgiveness, which leads to peace" and then mentioned the Messages for the World Day of Peace of Saint John Paul II, who declared: «Giving and receiving forgiveness is a prerequisite for a firm and lasting path of peace» (Message for the XXX World Day of Peace, 1997, entitled "Offer forgiveness, receive peace"). Many priests, men and women religious and some 900 faithful attended the mass. The Korean Catholic Church has confirmed that it will do everything possible to be an instrument of reconciliation and unity of the Korean people. The Eucharist for Unity has been celebrated every year on June 25 since 1965, the Archbishop recalled. "The reconciliation and peace of the Korean people are more necessary than ever today," he added, as the international political circumstances surrounding Korea have gradually worsened, and tension and military escalation in the confrontation between between South and North Korea.
Msgr. Chung also wanted to lament the current internal South Korean situation, pointing out: "The culture of hatred, the exclusion of people who have a different position from ours strongly permeates communication. The time has come for relations to overcome 70 years of conflict and seek authentic coexistence", he stressed. The Archbishop concluded his homily by inviting the faithful to pray together so that the two Koreas do not threaten each other, but take steps to restore mutual trust and "courageously walk the path of reconciliation and forgiveness, even if it is a long and difficult process". "Let us always remember our brothers and sisters in the North, who are suffering from food and medicine shortages, and let us not tire of praying for true peace on the Korean peninsula," he concluded. The June 25 mass was organized by the "National Reconciliation Committee" of the Archdiocese of Seoul. The Committee was created on March 1, 1995 to promote reconciliation and peace between the two Koreas, at the initiative of the late Cardinal Stephen, Kim Sou-hwan, then Archbishop of Seoul. Among other initiatives, the Committee has created over the years the "Peace Sharing Research Institute", an institute that carries out research and educational projects to present the vision of the Catholic Church on its relationship with the North. Among the initiatives promoted by the Committee are: the prayer movement for peace on the Korean peninsula, which involves all believers in a brief daily invocation to prayer; the organization of humanitarian aid to North Korea; support for the resettlement of North Korean refugees who have fled to the South; and the promotion of meetings, seminars, cultural events and public demonstrations or marches and pilgrimages to spread a culture of peace and reconciliation both in bilateral and international relations. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 27/6/2023)