Korea’s path to peace is still in its infancy and will be long and filled with obstacles – according to the new papal representative to South Korea – but recent developments are a cause for hope.
Maltese Archbishop Alfred Xuereb – previously the Secretary of the Secretariat for the Economy, and before that, private secretary to both Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis – will take up his new post in Seoul on Sunday.
The archbishop arrives exactly one month after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met with South Korean president Moon Jae-in in the demilitarized zone between the two countries.
During the meeting, they discussed denuclearizing the Korean peninsula.
Francis later commended the two men for their “courageous commitment” to sincere dialogue.
Kim was set to meet U.S. President Donald Trump next month, but Trump on Thursday announced the summit would not take place, saying it would be inappropriate at this time.
Xuereb told Vatican News – the official web portal of the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communication – on Thursday the meeting between the Korean leaders “gives great hope.”
“The path is still in its infancy and will certainly be a long one with many obstacles to overcome,” the archbishop said.
“Pope Francis has invited the entire Church to support the concerned parties to build peace and offer to the coming generations a future of harmony and prosperity,” he continued.
During their April 27 meeting, Kim and Moon discussed formally ending the Korean War, a proposal that has garnered the support of Trump.
Fighting in the war, which began in 1950, came to an end with an armistice in 1953, but no formal peace treaty was ever signed.
Xuereb mentioned the fact that for the past 23 years, Catholics in South Korea meet every week in Seoul’s cathedral to pray for the reunification of the country.
“The Church has a very important role in the reunification process, and following the mandate of the Divine Master, she continues to evangelize and to offer her contribution – also at the diplomatic level – to achieve this desired goal,” said the Vatican diplomat.
This story has been edited to note Trump’s decision to cancel his planned summit with Kim, which was announced after publication.