Pope Francis to Seoul–Passing Over China, and Will Send Message
Aug. 13, 2014 (LPAC)–Pope Francis travelled to South Korea, Wednesday, for a six-day visit. The Pope has made a habit of sending telegrams to the leaders of countries as he passes through their airspace, and for the first time, China is allowing him to pass over their air space on his way to Seoul. This provides an opportunity for the Pope to send a message to Xi Jinping, who then has an opportunity to respond. There is much discussion among Catholics and others about a possible papal visit to China.
“This is a sign of detente, for sure,” Father Bernardo Cevellera, head of the Rome-based AsiaNews agency and a specialist in the Catholic Church in China, told Reuters. “But the real miracle would be if Xi Jinping responds with his own telegram, and what he says.”
Pope Francis will hold a “Mass for Peace and Reconciliation” in the Myeong-dong cathedral in Seoul, and will preside over a meeting of Asian Catholic youth. It is likely some Chinese Catholics will travel to Seoul for the Mass. Although there is no persecution of Christians in China, the government insists on having regulatory powers, and refuses to allow the Pope to have full jurisdiction over Catholics in the country. There have been disputes over the appointment of Bishops.
In South Korea, Catholics make up about 10% of the population, and this number is increasing rapidly.
Pope Francis also plans to visit Sri Lanka and the Philippines in January.