South Korean President: North Would Welcome Pope

The Vatican reacted cautiously, but John Paul II has expressed a desire to visit North Korea

BY: Beliefnet News Services


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John Paul has showed an active interest in concerns of the two Korean states, giving thousands of dollars from his charities to famine-stricken North Korea and encouraging others to do likewise.

Two days before the inter-Korean summit began Tuesday, the pope issued a special statement encouraging the two Korean leaders to make peace. Speaking last Sunday, John Paul said he hoped the historic summit between North and South Korea would lead to reconciliation and help reunite long-separated families on the peninsula.

The pope said the summit offered cause for ``joyous hope'' for all humanity.

Vatican officials have made at least two other visits since then.

Meanwhile, the Turkish ambassador to the Vatican, Altan Guven, said Friday that the pope will visit Turkey next year.

"We will see next year, if I am still alive," the pope repoirtedly told Guven during an audience at the Vatican, in repsonse to an invitation extended by the Grand Mufti Nuri Yilmaz, Turkey's Muslim religious leader.

The pope had originally been invited to visit Turkey, a predominantly Muslim country, by former president Suleyman Demiral two years ago.

Guzen said no mention was made during the audience of Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turk who was given an Italian presidential pardon Tuesday for attempting to kill the pontiff in 1981.

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