Message from the President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea
Regarding the Joint Panmunjeom Declaration by the Leaders of South and North Korea
The third Inter-Korean Summit successfully ended; the leaders of South and North Korea agreed to cooperate toward a peace treaty to formally end the Korean War. This momentous meeting in history took place at Panmunjeom, a symbol of the national division. It was for the first time in sixty-five years that the two leaders, in holding hands, crossed the Military Demarcation Line back and forth. After planting a pine tree together to symbolize peace and prosperity, they exchanged a long conversation while walking along the footbridge. Afterwards, they jointly issued “the Panmunjeom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity and Unification of the Korean Peninsula,” based on mutual respect and cooperation for the future. It is certainly a historic event and good news which elicits a sense of hope to open a new era of reunified Korea.
The Catholic Church in Korea has been praying for the true and permanent peace on this land and for the reconciliation and unity of the Korean people, while celebrating the “Day of the Prayer for the Reconciliation and Unity of the Korean People” on June 25 every year since 1965. She, through the CBCK Committee for the Reconciliation of the Korean People, has provided non-governmental interchange and support for the reconciliation and unity of South and North Korea. We give thanks to the Lord for the successful Inter-Korean Summit in response to our heartfelt prayers and work for peace. Hence, this current success, we hope and pray, may serve as a driving force for our pastoral ministry of the national reunification and humanitarian exchanges.
To great joy for all, the Korean people today have made a great step toward peace, thanks to the support of the people and the commitment of the leaders of the two Koreas. We firmly believe that God may grant us a gift of peace on the Korean Peninsula. We also hope that today’s Joint Declaration by South and North Korea and the prospective summit meeting between North Korea and the United States will bear a good fruit of transforming the Korean Peninsula into a land of hope. Ultimately this may make a significant contribution to establishing peace not only in Asia but also all around the world.
Until the day finally arrives when peace is permanently established on the Korean Peninsula and our divided people are united, the Catholic Church in Korea shall continue to accompany the journey towards the reconciliation and unity of the Korean people with one accord.
April 27, 2018
+ Hyginus Kim Hee-joong
Archbishop of Gwangju
President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea