Highlights of the
The meeting between President Park Geun-hye and Pope Francis on August 14 had a constant pleasant air.
President Park greeted the pope at Seoul Airport with, "Bienvenido a Corea." She added that the Korean people are also pleased to receive the Pope in the nation. The Pope replied by saying, "Yes, I`m also happy as well. There are many Koreans in Buenos Aires, too."
Continuing, President Park said, "Nos vemos luego," as the pope waited to board a car. During the following afternoon`s visit to Cheong Wa Dae, President Park surprised the pope by saying, "La paz es un regalo que merece la pena," which means, "Peace is a gift which is worth the effort."
While in the Yeongbingwan, Cheong Wa Dae? official reception hall, President Park mentioned that her favorite Spanish phrase is, ?a esperanza es lo ultimo que se pierde,?meaning that hope is something one holds on to until the very last moment. The pope answered by saying that hope is a gift.
While going into the elevator, President Park asked the pope to get on first, but the pope said that, as a principle in Argentina, ?adies are first." The president insisted that popes are an exception, so, in the end, the pope got on first.
President Park was also worried about the pope? possible jetlag after such a long journey, as he has said that it normally takes him at least three days to adjust. President Park made a humorous comment about the pope having to leave Korea just as he adjusts to the jetlag.
President Park and
the pope exchange meaningful gifts
Park offered a flower- and tree-patterned embroidered bojagi (花木紋), a traditional multipurpose wrapping cloth, incased in a frame. This work of art took a local artist six months to complete using 30 different kinds of thread and white silk produced locally. Presidential spokesperson Min Gyeong-wook explained that a bojagi is a cloth used to wrap things, keep them safe and/or carry them around. He said that coincides with the pope`s grand mission of, ?mbracing humanity with love.?The president added, "I hope you find it befitting."
The pope`s gift was a copper print of the city of Rome. The print is one of a 300-piece limited edition celebrating ?he Major Jubilee?in the year 2000. The Vatican Apostolic Library had given this copy to the pope. In Roman Catholic tradition, a jubilee is the 50th year after seven sabbaticals have passed, when debts are forgiven and slaves are freed. Pope John Paul II claimed the year 2000 as a major jubilee. As Park listened to the pope`s explanations, she expressed her thanks and added that, ?his is far more intricate than I ever imagined.?
Pope Francis: 'peace is the work of justice'
Pope Francis has delivered a message of peace to the Korean Peninsula. He visited Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on August 14 and met with President Park Geun-hye. In his speech, the pope said, "Korea’s quest for peace is a cause close to our hearts, for it affects the stability of the entire area and, indeed, of our whole war-weary world."
The pope said Korea is a land which has long suffered from a lack of peace. ? can only express my appreciation for the efforts being made in favor of reconciliation and stability on the Korean Peninsula,"he said.
"The quest for peace also represents a challenge for each of us,?he continued. "It is the perennial challenge of breaking down the walls of distrust and hatred by promoting a culture of reconciliation and solidarity." peace is not simply the absence of war, but is, ?he work of righteousness?(Isaiah 32:17),"he said. ?ustice as a virtue calls for the discipline of forbearance. It demands that we not forget past injustices but overcome them through forgiveness, tolerance and cooperation. It demands the willingness to discern and attain mutually beneficial goals, building foundations of mutual respect, understanding and reconciliation."
?t is important that special concern be shown for the poor, the vulnerable and those who have no voice," the pope said. "It is my hope that Korean democracy will continue to be strengthened and that this nation will prove to be a leader also in the globalization of solidarity."
Pope Francis emphasized hope in the speech. "This national legacy has been tested through the years by violence, persecution and war. Despite these trials, however, the heat of the day and the dark of the night have always given way to the morning calm, that is, to an undiminished hope for justice, peace and unity."
?hat a gift hope is. We cannot become discouraged in our pursuit of these goals, which are for the good not only of the Korean people but of the entire region and the whole world,?the pope said.
The pope spoke directly to youth and said that a wise and great people treasure their young. ?henever young people gather together, as on the present occasion [of the sixth Asian Youth Day], it is a precious opportunity for all of us to listen to their hopes and concerns,"he said.
The 20-member delegation from Vatican City that visited Cheong Wa Dae that day included Archbishop Pietro Parolin, the Vatican? secretary of state, Archbishop Osvaldo Padilla, Bishop Peter Kang U-Il, Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung and Bishop Basil Cho Kyu-man. Senior Korean government officials, heads of public organizations and members of the diplomatic corps were also present.
Address of His Holiness Pope Francis
Honorable Government and Civil Authorities,
Distinguished Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
It is a great joy for me to come to Korea, the land of the morning calm, and to experience not only the natural beauty of this country, but above all the beauty of its people and its rich history and culture. This national legacy has been tested through the years by violence, persecution and war. Despite these trials, however, the heat of the day and the dark of the night have always given way to the morning calm, that is, to an undiminished hope for justice, peace and unity. What a gift hope is. We cannot become discouraged in our pursuit of these goals which are for the good not only of the Korean people, but of the entire region and the whole world.
I wish to thank President Park Geun-hye for her warm welcome. I greet her and the distinguished members of the government. I would like to acknowledge also the members of the diplomatic corps, the civil and military authorities, and all those present who by their many efforts have assisted in preparing for my visit. I am most grateful for your hospitality, which has immediately made me feel at home amongst you.
My visit to Korea is occasioned by the sixth Asian Youth Day, which brings together young Catholics from throughout this vast continent in a joyful celebration of their common faith. In the course of my visit I will also beatify a number of Koreans who died as martyrs for the Roman Catholic faith: Paul Yun Ji-chung and his 124 companions. These two celebrations complement one another. Korean culture understands well the inherent dignity and wisdom of our elders and honors their place in society. We Catholics honor our elders who were martyred for the faith because they were willing to give their lives for the truth which they had come to believe and by which they sought to live their lives. They teach us how to live fully for God and for the good of one another.
A wise and great people do not only cherish their ancestral traditions. They also treasure their young, seeking to pass on the legacy of the past and to apply it to the challenges of the present. Whenever young people gather together, as on the present occasion, it is a precious opportunity for all of us to listen to their hopes and concerns. We are also challenged to reflect on how well we are transmitting our values to the next generation, and on the kind of world and society we are preparing to hand on to them. In this context, I think it is especially important for us to reflect on the need to give our young people the gift of peace.
This appeal has all the more resonance here in Korea, a land which has long suffered because of a lack of peace. I can only express my appreciation for the efforts being made in favor of reconciliation and stability on the Korean peninsula, and to encourage those efforts, for they are the only sure path to lasting peace. Korea’s quest for peace is a cause close to our hearts, for it affects the stability of the entire area and indeed of our whole war-weary world.
The quest for peace also represents a challenge for each of us, and in a particular way for those of you dedicated to the pursuit of the common good of the human family through the patient work of diplomacy. It is the perennial challenge of breaking down the walls of distrust and hatred by promoting a culture of reconciliation and solidarity. For diplomacy, as the art of the possible, is based on the firm and persevering conviction that peace can be won through quiet listening and dialogue, rather than by mutual recriminations, fruitless criticisms and displays of force.
Peace is not simply the absence of war, but, “the work of justice” (Isaiah 32:17). Justice, as a virtue, calls for the discipline of forbearance. It demands that we not forget past injustices but overcome them through forgiveness, tolerance and cooperation. It demands the willingness to discern and attain mutually beneficial goals, building foundations of mutual respect, understanding and reconciliation. May all of us dedicate these days to peace, to praying for it and deepening our resolve to achieve it.
Dear friends, your efforts as political and civic leaders are ultimately directed to the goal of building a better, more peaceful, just and prosperous world for our children. Experience teaches us that in an increasingly globalized world, our understanding of the common good, of progress and development, must ultimately be in human and not merely economic terms. Like most of our developed nations, Korea struggles with important social issues, political divisions, economic inequities, and concerns about the responsible stewardship of the natural environment. How important it is that the voice of every member of society be heard, and that a spirit of open communication, dialogue and cooperation be fostered. It is likewise important that special concern be shown for the poor, the vulnerable and those who have no voice, not only by meeting their immediate needs but also by assisting them in their human and cultural advancement. It is my hope that Korean democracy will continue to be strengthened and that this nation will prove to be a leader also in the globalization of solidarity which is so necessary today; a leader which looks to the integral development of every member of our human family.
In his second visit to Korea, twenty-five years ago, Saint John Paul II stated his conviction that, “the future of Korea will depend on the presence among its people of many wise, virtuous and deeply spiritual men and women,” (October 8, 1989). In echoing his words today, I assure you of the continued desire of Korea’s Catholic community to participate fully in the life of the nation. The church wishes to contribute to the education of the young, the growth of a spirit of solidarity with the poor and disadvantaged, and the formation of new generations of citizens ready to bring the wisdom and vision inherited from their forebears and born of their faith to the great political and social questions facing the nation.
Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, I thank you once more for your welcome and hospitality. May God bless you and all the beloved Korean people. In a special way, may he bless the elderly and the young people, who, by preserving memory and inspiring courage, are our greatest treasure and our hope for the future.
President Park meets the Holy Father
President Park Geun-hye met with Pope Francis as he began his visit to Korea on August 14.
President Park said that all Koreans welcome and are exuberant about the pope’s visit, as they have long waited for another papal visit after John Paul II’s trip here in 1989. The president also expressed her honor to meet the pope in person, a man who has cared for the vulnerable and worked for world peace. She thanked him for choosing to visit Korea first before any other Asian country.
The president continued to express her heartfelt gratitude for the pope having sent sincere letters and blessings to the Korean people and for praying for peace across the Korean Peninsula. “I also feel grateful to you for having sent words of condolences to, and for having prayed for, the families as well as the victims who lost their lives in the tragic sinking of the Sewol ferry,” she added.
In response, the pope appreciated being welcomed with such hospitality. He mentioned that Korea is a great country that has a deep-rooted custom of respecting the elderly and which through hard work had risen to be one of the world’s economic powers. The pontiff also pointed out that he has noticed through their exchange of letters that President Park’s main concern is peace. When the pope said that peace is a God-given gift and that Korea is working hard to achieve the gift, the president responded that, “Peace is something worth trying to win.”
The president also said, “This year is very special since a new Cardinal of Korea, Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, has been elected and the pope has come to Korea, too.”
Pointing out that Roman Catholicism in Korea spread by word of mouth amongst the commoners, she said that, "The pope`s beatification of 124 Catholic martyrs in Seoul is particularly meaningful."
The pope said that, “Korea has long worked on missionary activities. It’s because God chose the nation and the Koreans, too, took God as their own belief. I also remember that when I was an archbishop in Buenos Aires, I saw the Korean religious community setting up a church in unison and actively engaging in missionary work. I also know that many Korean missionaries are working hard worldwide.”
President Park also said that, “As the two Koreas still remain technically at war, the pope’s efforts and dedication to peace and reconciliation feel more valuable than ever.” She went on to say that the most urgent task facing her country is the issue concerning the separated families of North and South Korea and humanitarian efforts should be made to handle the issue.
In response, the pope said that he understood the pain from which those separate families suffer, as he acknowledged that nothing could be more important than family. “I assure you that Roman Catholic churches will step forward and help to deal with the longstanding issue,” he said.
He also called Korea a, “seed of peace,” in that Korea uses a single language and if the seed were only well-planted and well-cultivated, the peninsula would gradually become one.
“We will pray for that,” he said.
President meets US House armed services committee chairman
President Park Geun-hye met Howard ?uck?McKeon, chairman of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee, and his delegation at Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on August 8. They exchanged views on the Korea-U.S. alliance and on the political situation on the Korean Peninsula and across Northeast Asia.
?he political situation on the Korean Peninsula and across Northeast Asia has recently become more volatile and bilateral cooperation is more necessary than ever,?Park said. ?he Korea-U.S. alliance is now in its best condition in history.?
?ome people doubt the sustainability of the U.S. commitment to its `pivot to Asia,` but our commitment is solid as is the pledge of our committee and the House to President Park and to the Korea-U.S. alliance,?said McKeon.
Speaking of the recently heightened North Korea threat, President Park said, "The best way to prevent North Korea from misjudging the situation is to show close bilateral cooperation. In April, leaders of the two nations visited the Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command together for the first time and send the message that we will not tolerate North Korean aggression."
?ven if we talk about non-proliferation in North Korea, only the North? acts of sincerity could lead to any meaningful dialogue. We are closely discussing the issue with neighboring countries.?
Highly appreciating the South Korean government? efforts to prepare for reunification, McKeon said, "Reunification can happen suddenly, like it did in Germany. Reunification could be burdensome for the South Korean public over the short term, but ultimately, it will be beneficial to both South and North Koreas, as well as to the region.?
Speaking of the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement, President Park said, ?he bilateral FTA has been effective for over two years and it is important to develop it in a way in which the public can feel the benefits. When a sufficient quota of professional visas is secured, and human exchanges increase, people of both countries will be able to feel the benefits,?she said, asking for support of committee members concerning related legislation.
Humanities education enhances wisdom: President
Students at elementary and secondary schools are to be given expanded opportunities to study the humanities in the form of concerts and clubs. Also, regardless of one`s major, all university students will be required to attend lectures on both the humanities and the natural sciences, in a bid to help enhance their basic intellectual groundwork and to increase their general knowledge.
The above plans were announced on August 6 during a meeting of the Presidential Committee for Cultural Enrichment. An affiliated committee, specially designed to promote a broad education covering both the arts and sciences, suggested that learning more about the humanities -- languages, literature, philosophy, religion, music, theater -- should be carried out to enhance people`s understanding of life.
The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, publisher of Korea.net, has teamed up with the Ministry of Education to announce seven major plans based on the above suggestions. Under the plans, the government will strengthen humanities education for students at elementary and secondary schools, helping them to develop character and creativity. It will improve and expand the choice of liberal educational courses for university students, to enhance their general humanism. It will step up efforts to increase scholarly capabilities in the humanities and produce better-educated future generations. All of this, the government said, will help to realize a, "community-based humanism," in people`s daily lives, helping to combine and integrate people`s understanding of the humanities with the culture industries. The government hopes to diversify the content of humanities education programs based on age group and, finally, boost international exchanges at universities and businesses.k