Spokesman details papal schedule and expectations

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Spokesman details papal schedule and expectations

The arrangement committee dedicated to Pope Francis’ upcoming trip to Korea announced detailed information about the papal visit yesterday during a press conference.

The leader of the Catholic Church is expected to spend five days here, from Aug. 14 to Aug. 18, during which he will attend the 6th Asian Youth Day, a religious event for young people from around Asia, at the 15th-century Haemi Castle in Seosan, South Chungcheong.

The festival runs from Aug. 13 to Aug. 17, and will be the focus of the Pope’s trip.

However, Francis’ itinerary also includes a number of meaningful engagements, said Huh Yeong-yeob, the committee’s spokesman.

“We have invited the women who were sexually enslaved by the Japanese military during World War II [who are historically known as ‘comfort women’] to the Peace and Reconciliation Mass,” Huh added. “We decided to invite them when the Pope initially said he would come to Korea. Some of them are also Catholics.”

North Korean believers were also invited to attend Masses during the papal visit. “We sent a request to the North and are waiting for their answer,” the spokesman said. “They are reviewing it positively. We are putting effort into it because it could be a symbolic event for people of the two Koreas to gather again.”

The committee expects that Pope Francis will also mention the Sewol ferry disaster during his official ceremonies. The accident, which drew worldwide attention, left nearly 300 passengers dead.

The families of the victims are invited to the papal Mass on Aug. 15, a holiday known among Catholics as the Feast of the Assumption, at the Daejeon World Cup Stadium.

“We are expecting that the Pope will deliver a message to the victims’ families,” Huh said.

BY KIM BONG-MOON [bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]

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