Pope Francis has indicated that he may be amenable to a DPRK visit — a somewhat surprising move, given the country’s tumultuous relationship with religion.
Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un, in a meeting with his South Korean counterpart last month, indicated his willingness for the Vicar of Christ to visit his country. The move typifies Kim Jong-Un’s recent desire for the DPRK to forge closer ties within the international community, as well as taking a more active role in global affairs.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in, attending the Vatican for a private meeting on Thursday, conveyed Kim’s wishes to Pope Francis.
The Pope acknowledged Kim’s sentiment in a statement later released. “If the invitation comes, I will surely respond to it and I can possibly go.” The visit would be the first time a Pope has visited the reclusive DPRK in its seventy-year history.
Pope Francis has already announced his intention to visit Japan next year, and the visit could be extended to incorporate symbolically significant trips to China and North Korea. Kim’s overture comes on the heels of an invitation to China by two Chinese bishops.
The thawing of relations between Pyongyang and the Holy See comes at a time that Kim Jong-Un’s international profile has been significantly boosted by his recent summit with US President Donald Trump and last month’s meeting with Moon Jae-in. A meeting with the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics could only further serve to cement Kim’s position as an international statesman.
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