CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 15 June 2019

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Interreligious delegation visits North Korea

SEOUL (SE): A delegation of 150 religious leaders from various communities in South Korea travelled to the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea for a two-day visit between November 10 and 11.

Fides reported that the leaders of seven major religions in South Korea gathered under the aegis of the Korean Conference of Religions for Peace.

The retinue was able to travel to Mount Kumgang, home to the well-known Buddhist temple, Singyesa, which was founded in 519, but destroyed during the Korean War (1950 to 1953) by American bombing.

It was rebuilt in 2004, thanks to a cross-demilitarised zone project between Seoul and Pyongyang.

The symbolic site became the venue for a rare meeting between religious delegations from north and south of the heavily militarised zone which divides the Korean people.

In a note sent to Fides, the conference leaders said the meeting took place with the aim of “praying together for peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.”

It described the event as particularly significant, as it was the first cross zone meeting of the religious leaders since Park Geun-hye came to power in Seoul.

Pyongyang also received two Christian delegations in early November.

One was from the Association of Catholic Priests for Justice and members of the delegation were allowed to celebrate a Mass in the city.

The second delegation was from the Ecumenical Forum for Korea, a group affiliated with the World Council of Churches. The delegation visited the only two Christian sites of worship in Pyongyang, the Catholic and the Protestant churches in Changchun.

A member of the delegation said that officials of the North Korean government told them that about 200 people gather every Sunday in the Catholic church for a liturgy, even though there is no Eucharistic celebration.

 

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