Pope Francis: My hopes for Korea

Pope Francis has praised South Korea for helping the integration of every member of the human family, saying it leads in the “globilisation of solidarity”.

Addressing the President of South Korea, Park Geun-hye, and diplomats on the first day of his pastoral visit to the country, the Pope said he appreciated “the efforts being made in favour of reconciliation and stability on the Korean peninsula … for they are the only sure path to lasting peace.

“Korea’s quest for peace,” Pope Francis continued, “is a cause close to our hearts, for it affects the stability of the entire area and indeed of our whole war-weary world.”

The Pope is in South Korea to take part in the 6th Asian Youth Day. He took the opportunity of his address in Seoul to link the energy of Asian youth with the wisdom of their ancestors. “A wise and great people do not only cherish their ancestral traditions,” he said. “They also treasure their young, seeking to pass on the legacy of the past and to apply it to the challenges of the present. Whenever young people gather together, as on the present occasion, it is a precious opportunity for all of us to listen to their hopes and concerns. We are also challenged to reflect on how well we are transmitting our values to the next generation, and on the kind of world and society we are preparing to hand on to them. In this context, I think it is especially important for us to reflect on the need to give our young people the gift of peace.”

STEWARDSHIP

Pope Francis also used his speech to stress the need for social responsibility and concern for the poor and disadvantaged in society. “Like most of our developed nations, Korea struggles with important social issues, political divisions, economic inequities, and concerns about the responsible stewardship of the natural environment,” he told the gathering in the South Korean capital. “How important it is that the voice of every member of society be heard, and that a spirit of open communication, dialogue and cooperation be fostered. It is likewise important that special concern be shown for the poor, the vulnerable and those who have no voice, not only by meeting their immediate needs but also by assisting them in their human and cultural advancement.”

During his five-day visit to South Korea, the Holy Father will beatify 124 martyrs of the 18th century who died for their faith. Christians today make up just under 11% of the population.

“It is my hope that Korean democracy will continue to be strengthened,” Pope Francis said in his opening address in South Korea, “and that this nation will prove to be a leader also in the globalisation of solidarity which is so necessary today: one which looks to the integral development of every member of our human family.”