Kim Jong Un says North Korea would welcome Pope Francis

Posted by On 4:08 PM

Kim Jong Un says North Korea would welcome Pope Francis

CBSN
×

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un

SEOUL, South Korea -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un wants Pope Francis to visit the officially atheist country, South Korea said Tuesday. South Korea's presidential office said in a statement that Kim told President Moon Jae-in during their summit last month that the pope would be "enthusiastically" welcomed in North Korea. Kim has been intensely engaged in diplomacy in recent months in what's seen as an effort to leverage his nuclear weapons program for an easing of economic sanctions and military pressure.

North Korea strictly controls the religious activities of its people, and a similar invitation for then-Pope John Paul II to visit a fter a 2000 inter-Korean summit never resulted in a meeting. The Vatican insisted at the time that a papal visit would only be possible if Catholic priests were accepted in North Korea.

Moon plans to convey Kim's desire for a papal visit when he travels to the Vatican next week. Moon said on Monday that he expects Kim to visit Russia soon and possibly hold a summit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The Vatican did not comment on the possibility of a papal visit. But immediately after the news, the Vatican press office released a statement confirming that the pope would receive South Korea's president in an audience at the Vatican on Oct. 18.

  • 2nd Trump-Kim summit almost a done deal, Pompeo says

Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said the audience will come a day after the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, celebrates a Mass for peace on the Korean Peninsula in St. Peter's Basilica, where Moon will participate.

Francis visited South Korea in August 2014. On the plane ride back to Rome, he expressed hope that the divisions would be overcome, saying "the two Koreas are brothers, they speak the same language."

"When you speak the same language it is because you have the same mother, and this gives us hope," the pope said. "The suffering of the division is great, and I understand this and pray that it ends."

North Korea's reported overture comes a few weeks after the Vatican signed a landmark deal with Communist China, North Korea's closest ally, over bishop nominations, aimed at ending decades of tensions that contributed to dividing the Chinese church and hampered efforts at improving relations between China and the Vatican.

Following an unusually provocative run of weapons tests last year, Kim has been on a diplomatic offensive since the start of this year.

He initiated offers for summits with Seoul and Washington, which led to three meetings with Moon and a highly choreographed June summit with U.S. President Donald Trump at which they issued an aspirational goal of a nuclear-free peninsula, without describing how or when it would occur.

Kim has presented himself as an international statesman, sharing food, wine and laughs with South Korean officials and appearing thoroughly at ease during his meeting with Trump in Singapore.

But post-summit nuclear negotiations between North Korea and the United States got off to a rocky start, with the North accusing Washington of making "gangster-like" unilateral demands for denuclearization, and calling for sanctions to be lifted before any further progress in nuclear talks.

There are doubts whether Kim is willing to fully relinquish his country's nuclear weapons, which he may see as a stronger guarantee of survival than whatever security assurances the United States could provide.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Kim in Pyongyang, North Korea's capital, on Sunday for talks on setting up a second summit with Trump.

The Vatican's priests were expelled by North Korea long ago and state-appointed laymen officiate services.

Estimates of the number of North Korean Catholics range from 800 to about 3,000, compared to more than 5 million in South Korea.

© 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Featured in World

  • Experimental vaccine shows promise against world's deadliest infectious disease

    Researchers say a new vaccine might prevent half of full-blown illnesses in infected people who receive the shot

  • Can the Catholic Church tackle sex abuse on its own?

    After admitting scandals driving youngsters away, Pope Francis says Church giving "our all" to stop it, but a German bishop says that's not enough

Popular

CBSN Live

watch

Popular On CBS News

  • 01

    "Monstrous" Hurricane Michael eyeing Florida's Gulf Coast

    80034 views
  • 02

    Limo company's violations, owner's unusual past come to light after crash

    44743 views
  • 03

    Commentary: "Blue wave" is far from certain

    11098 views
  • 04

    Limo in deadly crash "not supposed to be on the road," governor says

    10941 views
  • 05

    Owner of limo company in deadly N.Y. crash was FBI informant

    10139 views

Latest From "60 Minutes"

  • Author John Green: The "60 Minutes" interview

  • Senators Collins, Heitkamp explain Kavanaugh votes

  • Chef Massimo Bottura: The Pavarotti of pasta

  • The compromise on Kavanaugh's confirmation

  • Who's responsible for the opioid epidemic?

  • Paul McCartney speaks to "60 Minutes"

  • Henk Ovink and the Dutch solution to flooding

  • How did Google get so big?

  • Into the wild with Thomas D. Mangelsen

  • The Theranos deception

  •  Play Video

    Tracking Hurricane Michael

  •  Play Video

    Why Sen. Collins voted "yes" on Kavanaugh

  •  Play Video

    Florida evacuations ordered

  •  Play Video

    Limo failed safety inspection

  •  Play Video

    Limo crash victims mourned

Previous Next

Popular On CBS News

  • "Monstrous" Hurricane Michael eyeing Florida's Gulf Coast

  • Limo company's violations, owner's unusual past come to light after crash

  • Commentary: "Blue wave" is far from certain

  • Limo in deadly crash "not supposed to be on the road," governor says

  • Owner of limo company in deadly N.Y. crash was FBI informant

  •  20 Photos

    New book features rare photos of Led Zeppelin

  •  52 Photos

    The worst movies of 2018

  •  40 Photos

    Hundreds dead from Indonesia earthquake, tsunami

  •  20 Photos

    Puerto Rico: A year of reporting on Hurricane Maria

  •  32 Photos

    Graffiti rises at the World Trade Center site

Previous Next

Latest From CBS News

  • Louisiana teen completes record-breaking 76-day flight around the world

  • Ex-football star Kurt Warner on a new mission to help others

  • Nikki Haley resigning as U.N. ambassador

  • Three new cases of rare polio-like illness emerge

  • Arizona Senate candidates balance local, national issues in key midterm race

  • Arizona Senate candidates focus on national issues in midterm race

CBS News on Samsung TV

Source: Google News North Korea | Netizen 24 North Korea

Next
« Prev Post
Previous
Next Post »