South Korean Mass for peace attracts 20,000 faithful
Bishops mark 69th war anniversary with a special event aiming to plant 'seeds of peace in our painful history'.
Children and faithful carry a Marian statue of Fatima, Queen of Peace, to an altar at the opening of the Mass for Peace on the Korean Peninsula at Peace World Park in Imjingak on June 25. (Photo supplied)
South Korean bishops and 20,000 Catholics prayed for peace on the divided peninsula on the 69th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War (1950-53).
The Committee for the Reconciliation of the Korean People of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea (CBCK) held a special Mass on June 25 at Peace World Park in Imjingak, near the demilitarized zone dividing North and South Korea.
Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung of Seoul, also apostolic administrator of Pyongyang in North Korea, officiated the Mass.
Archbishop Alfred Xureb, apostolic nuncio to Korea, Archbishop Hyginus Kim Hee-jong of Kwangju and Archbishop Thaddeus Cho Hwan-kil of Daegu concelebrated the first national Mass for peace for eight years.
During the Mass titled “Blessed are the peacemakers,” the bishops’ committee released a letter asking all Koreans to move away from struggles and confrontations and seek peace.
“We need to keep dialogue between the two Koreas and the faithful should support it,” said Bishop Peter Lee Ki-heon of Uijeongbu, president of the committee, in the letter, adding that the South Korean government should keep offering humanitarian aid to the North and inter-Korean exchanges.
In his homily, Archbishop Kim, president of the CBCK, appealed to leaders of the two Koreas to work for the common goal of Korean people for reconciliation and prosperity rather than their personal pride or political causes.
“For peace, there should be no preconditions. We need to repent the history of using force of arms against each other. I wish the year 2020, the 70th anniversary of the Korean War, will bring the signing of the termination of war and an agreement for peace. The war ended with a truce, leaving the peninsula technically still at war,” he said.
Opening the Mass, Cardinal Yeom said the entire Catholic Church including Pope Francis is “praying for the seeds of peace to be planted in our painful history.”
He added: “Let’s dedicate this Mass to those deceased and sacrificed in the Korean War. In particular, let us remember the separated families and displaced people who still suffer from the pains of war.”
Bishop Franjo Komarica of Banja Luka in Bosnia and Herzegovina sent a special letter to promise that his diocese would be spiritually together in the Mass to pray for peace. Banja Luka Diocese set up a spiritual sisterhood with Pyongyang Diocese in 2017.