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Pope wants unification of Two Koreas

Pope John Paul II has told Seoul's new ambassador to the Vatican that he would like to see a rapproachement between the two Koreas, along with the elimination of nuclear arms.

Ambassador Youm Seong presented his credentials to the Holy Father on Friday.

The Pope began by expressing his satisfaction with the impressive growth of the Catholic Church in South Korea.

In 1990, there were 2.73 million baptised Catholics in the country. By 2002, the figure had grown to 4.18 million.

He said that the Catholic Church in Korea is a "promising reality that enjoys esteem and respect".

"It undertakes its mission inspired by the Gospel and gives concrete religious witness through its educational, welfare and charitable institutions, appreciated by so many," he continued.

The Pope delivered his address in Latin, which the ambassador speaks fluently. After studying theology, Youm Seong received a doctorate in classical literature in Rome and, until now, has been director of the Korean Institute of Greco-Roman Studies.

The Holy Father went on to say that he had visited Korea on two occasions, and referred to the "progress and victories of freedom and well-being of a young and dynamic society."

"However, I also saw the bitterness of many people in noting that the peninsula, inhabited by one people, is forced to live a painful division," he said. "The feelings of hostility and opposition between the two nations are surely cause for concern, but there is also reason to hope in knowing that there is a concrete will to alleviate tensions through dialogue and meetings."


Pope backs disarmament in Korea (Catholic World News)
Catholic Church in Korea
Seong Youm (Sogang University website)

7 Jul 2003