SEOUL, South Korea – The Vatican’s top diplomat expressed hope Thursday that efforts to bring lasting, stable peace on the Korean peninsula will bear fruit.
“We don’t have any doubt that there will be many challenges and many difficulties ahead, but the determination that the Korean people have always shown in determining their future, I am sure with the prayers and support of Christians and other men and women in good faith around the world that many good things will be achieved in the coming months. We pray for that,” Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Vatican Secretary for Relations with States, said July 5 at the Joint Security Area on the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea.
Gallagher arrived in Seoul July 4 for a six-day trip to South Korea on an invitation from the country’s government. In addition to visiting the DMZ, he will meet with President Moon Jae-in and Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha.
The Vatican official’s visit comes at the same time that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in North Korea to discuss Pyongyang’s denuclearization. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had met with U.S. President Donald Trump last month, signing a joint statement making commitments “to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.”
Gallagher, touring the Joint Security Area, said, “it is a very historic period, a period of hope, and the Holy Father is supporting that movement.” The area is the one portion of the DMZ where North and South Korean soldiers stand face-to-face, and it is used for diplomatic meetings between the countries.
He prayed that “in the future, it will be a place for hope and reconciliation.”
Addressing North Korea, he said that “humanity has always got to move forward.”
“Whatever side of the border we may be on, whatever situation we find ourselves in, we have to try and work for advancing the development of society.”
He said he is “sure that there will be much good that will come in everything that is happening throughout the Korean Peninsula” and among their international partners.
Reflecting July 6 on his visit to the Joint Security Area, Gallager said that the “very delicate situation” there “makes the efforts to promote denuclearization, unification and peace on the peninsula very, very pertinent indeed.”
“What is surprising is that the division of only six or seven decades turned what was previously one country into very different nations. I was freshly reminded that we have so much to do about that,” he added.
The archbishop called on Catholics to “mobilize every possible (opportunity) to make peace” between the Koreas.