In a statement released earlier this morning, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi confirmed Pope Francis’ apostolic trip to the Republic of Korea, which is slated to occur in August of this year.
“Welcoming the invitation from the President of the Republic and the Korean bishops,” Fr. Lombardi announced in his March 10 statement, “His Holiness Pope Francis will make an Apostolic Voyage to the Republic of Korea from 14 to 18 August 2014, on the occasion of the Sixth Asian Youth Day, to be held in the diocese of Daejeon.”
Although no further details were released, Pope Francis has both received invitations from and spoken of his desire to visit various countries in the Asia-Pacific region, including Sri Lanka.
This visit will mark the first time in 25 years that a Pope has visited the Korean peninsula, the last visit occurring when Bl. John Paul II came in Oct. of 1989, following a 1984 trip where he canonized 103 Korean martyrs.
According to the Yonhap news agency, the Pope is also scheduled to meet with the county’s president, Park Geun – hye, during the visit, and will preside over the Mass of beatification for 124 other Korean martyrs, whose causes he approved last month.
During last month’s consistory of Cardinals, the Pope offered affectionate words to Korean Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung about the country, stating that “I love Korea.”
“The Korean people love you Holy Father” was the response of Cardinal Yeom Soo-jung, who was elevated to Cardinal along with the 19 other men named by Pope Francis earlier this year.
In a statement published on AisaNews on March 10, the cardinal expressed his “warmest welcome to Pope Francis' visit to Korea.”
Recalling the Pontiff’s words to him during the consistory, Cardinal Yeom Soo-jung expressed that “now that he is really coming to our country, I can feel the abundant grace of God. The Holy Father's visit to Korea is (a) great joy and blessing to our country.”
“I am very grateful that the Holy Father has kept in mind the young people of Asia and the Korean faithful, and has decided to travel such long way to our country,” he said, praying that “Pope Francis' visit will bring reconciliation and peace to the Korean Peninsula.”
He also expressed his hope that the Pope’s visit “will be the chance for all Asia to feel the peace of our Lord,” and prayed that “this also be a time for the poor and the marginalized people to regain hope.”