U.S. and South Korean Catholic bishops have called for the U.S. and North Korea to deescalate the current threat of war between them.
Bishop Oscar Cantu, head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ international justice and peace committee, sent a letter to Secretary Rex Tillerson on Thursday urging Washington to avoid war and find a dialogue-based solution to the current tensions with Pyongyang, according to Newsweek.
Cantu wrote that while the threat posed by North Korea should not be “underestimated or ignored,” the “high certainty of catastrophic death and destruction from any military action must prompt the United States to work with others in the international community for a diplomatic and political solution based on dialogue.”
Cantu and Catholic leaders in South Korea said they supported South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s proposed military negotiations with North Korea. Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, head of the Catholic Church in South Korea, urged North Korea to “come to the discussion table and abandon their nuclear weapons” for the “safety and future of all Koreans.” Soo-jung also called upon Catholics to prayerfully intercede for a peaceful solution.
“This avenue, unlike most others, offers the Korean Peninsula a future free from military conflicts or crises, which could simultaneously threaten entire nations and millions of lives in the region,” Cantu said of Jae-in’s proposed negotiations.
Pope Francis also waded into the fray of politics in April and suggested that a third country mediate negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea, according to The Guardian.
“This question of missiles in [North] Korea has been brewing for more than a year but now it seems the situation has become too hot,” Francis said. “We are talking about the future of humanity. Today, a widespread war would destroy – I would not say half of humanity – but a good part of humanity, and of culture, everything, everything. It would be terrible. I don’t think that humanity today would be able to withstand it.”
It takes two to tango, however, and the Catholic Church’s pleading for peace has fallen on deaf ears where North Korea is concerned. The tyrannical regime “reserves its most severe persecution for Christians, although in practice the regime is adverse to all organized religion,” according to a 2016 report from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. State-run churches have operated in North Korea since 1988, but no official branch of the Catholic Church exists in the country.
Despite the guarantee of religious freedom in North Korea’s constitution, “no such freedom exists in practice.” North Korean government officials have even executed people simply for possessing a Bible.
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