Welcoming Pope Francis

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Welcoming Pope Francis

Pope Francis embarks on a meaningful tour of Korea from August 14 to 18. Since his inauguration in March of last year, Francis has always emphasized the importance of modesty, love toward the poor and dialogue with other people from different religious and ideological backgrounds.

The pontiff has so far embraced people in poverty and hardship with a profound love by practicing thrift and abstinence himself. He also endeavored to talk with other religions based on his signature generosity and positive attitudes. Such efforts are greatly appealing to the hearts of Koreans, who strive to seek the genuine values of life in a highly-developed and materialistic society. We welcome the pope’s visit and have great expectations for the messages he will deliver during his stay.

The pope’s four-night, five-day itinerary is packed with diverse events aimed at putting into action his over-brimming spirit of modesty, affection and dialogue. He will share his deep sorrow with the bereaved families of the Sewol victims and surviving students of Danwon High School at Daejeon World Cup Stadium in a mass to celebrate Assumption Day. And at a big mass for peace and reconciliation at Myeongdong Cathedral in Seoul on the last day of his visit, he will console the distressed - including former sex slaves for Japan’s Imperial Army and laid-off workers of Ssangyong Motor - for all their pain and sacrifices. The mass at the largest cathedral in Korea can be understood as a message of love and reconciliation for our society. Francis will also deliver a message of hope to Asia’s young Catholic generation at the closing ceremony of the 6th Asian Youth Day in Dangjin, South Chungcheong.

His meeting with Korean religious leaders at the Seoul Diocese in Myeongdong Cathedral is aimed at promoting dialogue with other religions and ideologies, which the pope has consistently stressed. In the same context, the pontiff mediated a meeting between Israeli President Shimon Perez and Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to ease tension between the two archenemies. We are looking forward to hearing a similar message of peace and reconciliation during his historic visit to Korea.

On August 16, he will carry out the beatification of 124 Korean martyrs at Gwanghwamun Plaza, followed by trips to Catholic shrines in Seoul and South Chungcheong. His visit will mark a historic moment for Korean Catholics as it signifies his respect for the Korean Catholic Church, which was homegrown without help from foreign missionaries, and produced a number of martyrs despite extreme persecution.

JoongAng Ilbo, Aug. 12, Page 30

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