Pope Francis has been invited by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to visit his country. Even though, the long-isolated country doesn’t have any permanent priests. An announcement has been made by South Korea’s presidential office. The South Korean President Moon Jae-in who will be in the Vatican next week will deliver the invitation to the Pope visit Pyongyang. The late Pope John Paul II was the only Pope who had received an invitation from North Korea.
North Korea and Vatican have no formal diplomatic relations. Mr Moon's spokesman, Kim Eui-kyeom, told reporters, "During the meeting with Pope Francis, [Mr Moon] will relay the message from chairman Kim Jong-un that he would ardently welcome the Pope if he visits [the North Korean capital] Pyongyang." This invitation is the latest reconciliatory gesture from North Korea.
It’s going to be an interesting visit for the head of the Popes as North Korea has stringent rules about the practice of religion. North Korea which housed a Catholic community of around 55,000 just before the 1950-53 Korean War doesn’t allow priests to settle in the country on a permanent basis. Priests from the South visit occasionally accompanying aid deliveries or humanitarian projects. This invitation is a first-of-its-kind since Pope John Paul II in 2000.
This gesture from Mr Kim comes right after US President Donald Trump’s plans of a second summit with the North Korean leader. Trump stated that “incredible” progress has been made in talks with North Korea.