Pope wants to visit North Korea

Pope Francis stated that he is ready to travel to North Korea if he is ready, citing the need for peace on the Korean peninsula after decades of national division.

South Korean Bishop Lazarus You Heung-sik of Daejeon told Yonhap the pope has signaled his willingness to visit Kim Jong Un’s regime during a meeting at the Vatican.

The pope reportedly said a people with a common ethnicity had lived as separate families for 70 years. The pope said he understood their pain, the South Korean news agency reported Monday.

Francis previously mentioned an interest in visiting North Korea. In 2018, the Pope told South Korean President Moon Jae-in that he could travel to the isolated regime, according to Korean press reports.

The Pope has never visited North Korea this year, but in December 2018 Marco Impagliazzo, the president of the Community of Sant’Egidio, a lay Catholic association in Rome, visited North Korea for humanitarian cooperation.

The Italian group met with Kim Yong Nam, Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly.

Moon, who is leaving office in March, has urged the United States to continue diplomacy with the North under the Biden administration.

According to Moon’s former diplomatic envoy in Rome, Ambassador Lee Baek-man, in February, Moon may have mentioned their shared identity as Catholics to President Joe Biden on their first phone call after Biden’s inauguration.

“With the G20 (Group of 20) summit taking place in Rome this October, there could be an important discussion on the ‘Peace Process on the Korean Peninsula,'” Lee said in the South Korean publication Firenze’s Table.

South Korea’s Catholic Church has been working with the Vatican on Covid-19 relief for low-income countries, according to Yonhap on Monday.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Daejeon donated $460,000 for Covid-19 vaccines in developing countries following a request from the Holy See, the report said.