Pope Francis ended his first official visit to Asia on August 18th by urging Koreans — from both the North and the South — to reject “suspicion and confrontation” and find new ways to build peace on the divided peninsula.
“Let us pray, then, for the emergence of new opportunities for dialogue, encounters and the resolution of differences, for continued generosity in providing humanitarian assistance to those in need, and for an ever greater recognition that all Koreans are brothers and sisters, members of one family, one people,” Francis said.
He delivered the message at a moving reconciliation Mass at Seoul’s main Myeong-dong Cathedral attended by South Korean President Park Geun-hye, as well as North Korean defectors.
As the pope flew across Chinese airspace on his return flight to Rome, he sent a telegram — his second during the trip — to President Xi Jinping, expressing his “divine blessings” for the powerful leader and the Chinese people.
Francis was the first pope in history to be granted permission to fly over China, and he used the opportunity in both directions to create the opportunity for new dialogue. China’s Foreign Ministry has reacted positively to the pope’s telegrams and already indicated it wants to promote dialogue with the Holy See after decades of frosty relations.