CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 8 December 2018

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Chapel of peace for Panmunjom

SEOUL (UCAN): A new chapel will be built in the Joint Security Area (JSA) at Panmunjom, the truce village on the inter-Korean Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) that was established when Korean War (1950-53) ended in an armistice.
 
The chapel will replace an older structure built in 1958. Bishop Francis Xavier Yu Soo-il, of the Military Ordinariate of Korea, celebrated a ground-breaking ceremony on June 5.
 
The 65-year armistice means the two Koreas remain technically in a state of war despite a recent series of rapprochement talks between the president of the United States, Donald Trump, North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, and South Korean president, Moon Jae-in.
 
The facility, which will be placed in front of the Visitor Centre, will act as a chapel of peace in this historic setting where the scars of the war remain despite the latest wave of momentum for reconciliation and increased inter-Korean exchanges.
 
“The construction of the new chapel in the JSA is a gift showing God’s grace,” Bishop Xavier said.
 
“The chapel, located in the closest possible place to North Korea, will serve as somewhere we can pray to overcome the division of the two Koreas as we hope for peaceful reunification,” he added.
 
“It will also serve as a spiritual cradle for the soldiers guarding the truce village. A blessing on all those who visit here.”
 
The one-storey building situated on a 2,089 square-metre plot of land is due to be finished by March and will be able to accommodate over 100 people.
 
“It is meaningful that we can build a new chapel in the JSA, which was the place of fierce battles and has now become a place of dialogue. This will be a venue to pray for peace on the Korean Peninsula,” the commander of the United Nations Command Security Battalion-JSA, Lt. Col. Matthew Farmer, said. 

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