Pope sends donation to help Yemenis in Jeju

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Pope sends donation to help Yemenis in Jeju

The Vatican’s top envoy in South Korea has delivered Pope Francis’ donation of 10,000 euros ($11,600) to a local bishop advocating for the rights of Yemeni asylum seekers on Jeju Island, his office said Sunday.

Archbishop Alfred Xuereb made an official visit to Jeju on Saturday to renew the pontiff’s support for Bishop Peter Kang U-il, who has said that rejecting refugees and migrants amounts to a “crime that shuns the least responsibility one should take as a human being.”

During his first visit to the island since he took office in late May as the Vatican’s apostolic nuncio for South Korea, Xuereb met with Yemeni asylum seekers and celebrated a mass with the bishop at a cathedral.

“The purpose of his visit is to reiterate the will of Pope Francis, who wishes to uphold Bishop Kang U-il,” Xuereb’s office said in a statement. Kang recently authored a pastoral letter on the more than 500 Yemenis who arrived in Jeju this year seeking asylum from civil war. Xuereb’s office said Kang’s work “is in perfect harmony with the Papal teachings and documents on refugees.”

Pope Francis has continued to support asylum seekers who embark on treacherous journeys from conflict-ridden areas in Africa and the Middle East. “Above all, the Lord needs our hearts to show his merciful love toward the least, the outcast, the abandoned, the marginalized,” he said.

The Yemenis entered Korea through Jeju’s visa-free program, which allows people to stay for up to three months on the island without any restrictions. Their sudden arrival sparked protests in Korea. Some believe the Yemenis arrived solely for economic advantages.

Before leaving the island, Xuereb stopped by the April 3 Peace Park to pray, his office said. The park commemorates the victims of a clash between the military and civilians between 1948 and 1954. The conflict was an outgrowth of ideological division following Korea’s liberation from Japanese colonial rule.

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