Pope Francis may visit South Korea this summer

Jan. 22, 2014 at 1:00 PM
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SEOUL, Jan. 22 (UPI) -- Pope Francis may make the first papal visit to South Korea in 25 years this summer to attend the sixth Asian Youth Day, the Vatican said Wednesday.

The Rev. Federico Lombardi, spokesman for the Vatican, said the trip is being "evaluated," the Italian news agency ANSA reported. He said the pope may also visit the Philippines and Sri Lanka, but those trips would not be in 2014.

Prime Minister Chung Hon-won met Tuesday with Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, the archbishop of Seoul, to congratulate him on his elevation to cardinal. Chung promised the government will join the Catholic church in South Korea in pressing for a visit.

The last pope to visit the country was Pope John Paul II in 1989.

There are more than 5 million Catholics in South Korea, about 10 percent of the population. If the pope visits in August, he may also participate in a ceremony beatifying 124 Korean martyrs, sources told ANSA.

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