South Korean President Moon Jae-in attended a special mass for peace on the Korean Peninsula at the Vatican on Oct. 17, 2018.
The mass was presided over by its top diplomat, Pietro Parolin, in honor of Moon, a Catholic, whose peace drive has revived cooperation between the two Koreas and talks to denuclearize the North.
The mass began with the Vatican's secretary of state welcoming Moon and his wife in Korean.
"I welcome President Moon Jae-in and first lady Kim Jung-sook. I relay Pope Francis' welcome. Let us pray for peace on the Korean Peninsula," Parolin said.
The hour-long mass ended with Parolin offering a short prayer for peace on the Korean Peninsula, again in Korean.
Moon's presidential office, Cheong Wa Dae, earlier noted it marked a very rare occasion for the Vatican to hold a mass for a specific country.
After the mass, the South Korean president was given what the Vatican called an "unique and exceptional" opportunity to address the Vatican and its people.
Moon asked for the international community's continued support for his efforts to establish lasting peace on the peninsula. He called the event a great blessing for his country and its people in their journey toward peace.
"Especially, President Moon expressed his gratitude to Pope Francis for offering a message of peace and reconciliation at every critical juncture on the Korean Peninsula and asked for the Vatican's continued support and interest, noting the Pope's prayers work as a compass in efforts to end confrontation and hostility on the Korean Peninsula and move toward peace and stability," Cheong Wa Dae said.
Moon will meet with the pope on Oct. 18, 2018. Seoul earlier said its leader will deliver an invitation from the North Korean leader for the pope to visit Pyongyang.
Many believe the pope's trip to the communist state, if made, may signal his blessing for the North in its endeavor to become a normal state. No Roman Catholic leader has ever visited the reclusive state.
"President Moon stressed that South Korea's Catholic church served as a guiding light in the process of liberation, modernization and democratization of his country, and promised the South Korean government will continue on its journey to go beyond peace on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia toward peace and prosperity of the entire world and integration of all humanity," Cheong Wa Dae said in a press release.
The Vatican has said the meeting between Moon and the pope, which comes during the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, is an exceptional event. The pope usually holds meetings with visiting heads of state at 9:30 a.m., but Moon will be received from noon, it noted.(Yonhap)