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Pope Francis calls for Korea's leaders to be 'artisans of peace'

By Elizabeth Shim
Pope Francis calls for Korea's leaders to be 'artisans of peace'
Pope Francis called on an audience to the Vatican on Wednesday to pray for peace on the Korean Peninsula. Photo by Stefano Spaziani/UPI | License Photo

April 25 (UPI) -- Pope Francis called on his followers to pray for North and South Korea on Wednesday and said the upcoming inter-Korea summit is a good opportunity for reconciliation and the restoration of brotherly love.

The Pope made the statement before his weekly general audience on Wednesday, where he also called on the leaders of the two Koreas to be "artisans of peace."

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The summit is a "favorable occasion to start a transparent dialogue and a concrete route toward reconciliation and regained brotherhood with the aim of guaranteeing peace on the Korean Peninsula and in the entire world," the Pope said.

Francis also mentioned the summit will be held on Friday at Panmunjom and brought up the names of the leaders, South Korea's Moon Jae-in and North Korea's Kim Jong Un, according to South Korean news agency Yonhap.

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Moon is South Korea's second Roman Catholic president, and Kim is at the center of a leadership idolization cult in North Korea.

The pope said he would personally pray for the Korean people who are "passionate about peace," and that the entire Catholic Church will stand close to South Korea ahead of the summit.

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About 11 percent of South Koreans identify as Roman Catholic, and persecution of Catholics in the early modern era produced martyrs including Saint Andrew Kim Taegon, who was posthumously canonized in 1984.

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Francis visited South Korea in 2014, the first country in Asia he visited upon appointment.

In May 2017 Moon sent a special envoy, Archbishop Hyginus Kim Hee-jung of Gwangju, to deliver a letter to Pope Francis.

In a period of of rising tensions, Moon requested the pope play a mediating role in a summit with Kim.

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