News / Asia

Pope Delivers Mass for South Korean Youth

  • Pope Francis receives a bouquet of flowers from a child as he leaves Seoul at the end of his five-day visit to South Korea, Aug. 18, 2014.
  • Pope Francis blesses a crown of barbed wire taken from the border between South and North Korea that resembles the crown of thorns worn by Jesus Christ, prior to the start of a Mass of reconciliation in Seoul, South Korea, Aug. 18, 2014.
  • The faithful sing a reunification song during a Mass for peace and reconciliation outside Myeongdong Cathedral in Seoul, South Korea, Aug. 18, 2014.
  • The faithful watch a laptop computer broadcasting a Mass of reconciliation outside Myeongdong Cathedral in Seoul, South Korea, Aug. 18, 2014.
  • Pope Francis talks to the media during an airborne press conference on his journey back to Rome from Seoul, South Korea, Aug. 18, 2014.
  • Pope Francis waves during his visit to the birthplace of Saint Kim Taegon Andrea, also known as Saint Andrew Kim Taegon, the first Korean-born Catholic priest, Solmoe Sanctuary in Dangjin, South Korea, Aug. 15, 2014.
  • South Koreans hold a rally to demand a government inquiry into the sinking of the sunken ferry, Sewol. Pope Francis met privately with about a dozen relatives of the dead as well as survivors of South Korea's April ferry disaster, in Seoul, South Korea, Aug. 15, 2014.
  • The signature of Pope Francis is seen on the guest book after he prayed in front of the birthplace of Saint Andrea Kim Dae-gun at the Solmoe Sanctuary in Dangjin, South Korea, Aug. 15, 2014.
  • Pope Francis waves upon his arrival at Seoul Air Base, as South Korean President Park Geun-hye smiles, in Seongnam, Aug.14, 2014.
  • South Korean President Park Geun-hye leads Pope Francis after a welcoming ceremony at the presidential Blue House in Seoul, Aug. 14, 2014.
Pope Francis Visits South Korea
VOA News

Pope Francis delivered a mass to tens of thousands of South Korean youths, urging them to renounce the materialism that afflicts much of Asia and reject what he called "inhuman" economic systems that disenfranchise the poor.

The pope spoke Friday at a soccer stadium in the city of Daejeon that seats 50,000 people. It was his first public appearance since arriving in Seoul on Thursday. Before the mass, Pope Francis met with families of victims and some survivors of the Sewol ferry disaster in April.

Upon arriving on Thursday, Francis met with South Korean President Park Geun-hye and the two leaders gave a joint address.

Speaking in English -- a rarity for the Spanish-speaking pope -- Francis said diplomacy is based on dialogue, rather than accusations and threats, and noted that Korea's "quest for peace" affects the stability of the entire region.

President Park said North and South Korea should get rid of fear and nuclear weapons and concentrate on reunification.

She thanked the pope for his prayers and for carrying out a mass "for peace and reconciliation" during his visit.

As Pope Francis's plane was landing in Seoul, North Korea fired the first of five projectiles into the Sea of Japan.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Noh Kwang-il condemned the launches, which are the latest in a series of similar rocket tests by the North.

The North declined to send a delegation to the papal mass, citing its anger at upcoming U.S.-South Korean military drills.

Like all other religions in North Korea, Catholicism is allowed to exist only under the tightest of restrictions. As a result, it is unclear how many North Koreans practice Catholicism.

The pope's trip to South Korea is also highlighting tensions between the Vatican and China, which do not have diplomatic relations.

As his plane flew over Chinese airspace, Pope Francis sent a message to President Xi Jinping offering "divine blessings of peace and well-being upon the nation."

Despite the Vatican's objections, Beijing insists on maintaining a state-controlled Catholic church that does not answer to Rome. There is also a large underground church, and the two sides disagree over which has the authority to ordain priests.

About 100 Chinese had planned to attend the Asian Youth Day but on Thursday Heo Young-yeop, a spokesman for the papal visit to Korea, said half of those had been unable to attend.

Chinese officials have not commented on why the youths were unable to attend.

South Korea boasts about five million Catholics and is one of the church's fastest growing congregations in the world.

Francis’ trip is the first to the nation since Pope John Paul II visited South Korea in 1989. Vatican officials say Francis will bring a message about the "future of Asia" and speak to all countries on the continent during his trip.

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Comment Sorting
by: Zhang from: China
August 15, 2014 5:26 AM
Please do proofread Sea of japan to East sea.

by: kusnoki masashige from: Japan
August 15, 2014 5:22 AM
Sea of Japan shall be rectified to East sea.

by: walter from: India
August 15, 2014 2:09 AM

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