Pope Meets Korean WWII Sex Slaves

Francis calls for peace on last day of Asian visit
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 18, 2014 2:43 AM CDT
Pope Meets Korean WWII Sex Slaves
Pope Francis meets with religious leaders prior to the start of a mass of reconciliation at Seoul's main cathedral today.   (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Pope Francis wrapped up his first trip to Asia today by challenging Koreans—from the North and the South—to reject the "mindset of suspicion and confrontation" that clouds their relations and find new ways to forge peace on the war-divided peninsula. In a poignant moment at the start of the reconciliation mass at Seoul's main cathedral, the pontiff bent down and greeted seven women, some sitting in wheelchairs, who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military during World War II. One gave him a pin of a butterfly—a symbol of these "comfort women's" plight—which he immediately pinned to his vestments and wore throughout the service.

Pyongyang fired several rockets on the first day of the pontiff's five-day trip, but later said it was nothing to do with his visit. In his homily, Francis said that reconciliation can be brought about only by forgiveness, even if it seems "impossible, impractical, and even at times repugnant." He urged the faithful to pray "for the emergence of new opportunities for dialogue, encounter, and the resolution of differences, for continued generosity in providing humanitarian assistance to those in need, and for an ever greater recognition that all Koreans are brothers and sisters, members of one family, one people." (Read more Pope Francis stories.)

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