No papal visit unless North Korea admits priests, says new cardinal

.- Korea’s second cardinal, Archbishop Cheong Jin-suk, has suggested that North Korea would not get a papal visit as long as the Communist country does not allow entry to Catholic priests, reported the Korea Times.

“We have demanded several times that Pyongyang accept Catholic priests of any nationality. However, North Korea keeps saying it is not time yet. Therefore, it is difficult for the pontiff to pay a visit to the North,” the archbishop told reporters.

He spoke Monday during his first official press conference since being named Korea’s second cardinal last week. The press conference was held at Myongdong Catholic Cathedral in central Seoul.

Prior to visiting Pyongyang himself, the newly named cardinal said reconciliation between the two countries had to be achieved. “I think the two Koreas first need to apologize to each other for their past deeds,” he told reporters.

However, the cleric pledged that the South Korean church would continue to support the North with humanitarian aid, including food. Over the last 10 years, the Catholic Church in Korea has sent $10-million worth of aid. 

Before Korea’s liberation, North Korea had around 58 Catholic churches and around 55,000 followers, but during the Korean War all of the churches were destroyed.

The archbishop said there might be up to 3,000 Catholics in North Korea, but the number is not confirmed.

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