Moon first floated the idea of a papal visit to the North in 2018 when he revealed that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had said during a summit between the Korean leaders that the pope would be “enthusiastically” welcomed.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in gave Pope Francis a statue of a cross made with barbed wire from the demilitarized zone separating the Koreas and told him Friday that a papal visit to the North would help create “momentum for peace” on the peninsula, officials said told the Associated Press.
Moon, a Catholic, called on Francis before the start of the Group of 20 summit in Rome.
The Vatican, which didn’t allow independent media in the audience, said the talks touched on the role of the Catholic Church in promoting dialogue and said “hopes were shared that joint effort and good will may favor peace and development in the Korean Peninsula, supported by solidarity and by fraternity.”
Ahead of the visit, South Korean presidential officials said they expected Moon and Francis would discuss a possible papal visit to the officially atheist North, since Francis had previously expressed a desire to visit if it becomes possible. The Vatican made no mention of a possible trip in its statement Friday and none is currently believed to be under consideration.
© Copyright LaPresse