North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has invited Pope Francis to meet in Pyongyang, a South Korean spokesman said Tuesday.
Pope Francis is already set to meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in Oct. 18 for an audience at the Vatican Apostolic Palace, where Moon will personally deliver the invitation from Kim Jong Un.
President Moon, a Catholic, will also participate in a Mass for peace on the Korean peninsula in St. Peter’s Basilica on Oct. 17 celebrated by the Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin.
During the most recent summit between Korean leaders in September, Kim told Moon that he would “greatly welcome” the pope Pyongyang, according to South Korea’s presidential office.
Twenty-five million people live in North Korea, which has one of the worst human rights records in the world. A United Nations investigation in 2014 produced a 372-page report that documented crimes against humanity, including execution, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, forced abortions, and knowingly causing prolonged starvation.
There are currently an estimated 80,000 to 120,000 people in North Korea’s six political prison camps, in which the U.S. State Department has found evidence of starvation, forced labor, and torture.
South Korean bishops have been leading Catholics in prayer for the reconciliation and unity of the divided Korean peninsula for decades.
Full story at Catholic News Agency.