During a nine-day tour of Europe, the President of South Korea, Moon Jae-in, made a stop in the Vatican. He met Pope Francis, thanking him and telling him that he too is Catholic and has 'Timothy,' as his baptismal name.
The goal of the meeting was for Moon Jae-in to deliver a special message from the North Korean leader: that Kim Jong Un would welcome the pope into his country if he visits Pyongyang.
According to Moon's top press secretary, the president delivered the invitation verbally to the pope. He in turn, said he would “certainly” answer if an official invitation arrives and he can go.
Moon Jae-in bought gifts for the pope, including a small statue of Mary and an image of Jesus' face.
Pope Francis said that in continuing the theme of peace from their meeting, he wanted to give him a special symbol in this olive branch. Also, he gave his Message for the World Day of Peace 2018 and a drawing of the original plan for St. Peter's Square, which the president seemed to have liked very much.
Moon Jae-in's wife, Kim Jung-sook, also met the Holy Father, along with a whole delegation that was present. They cordially left the pope, and the president thanked him for his time.
Moon Jae-in then went to meet with Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and with Msgr. Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States.
According to a Vatican statement, “the parties evoked the positive contribution of the Church” socially, in education and in healthcare. They also discussed the “promotion of dialogue and reconciliation between Koreans.”
There was a “strong appreciation for useful initiatives to overcome the tensions that still exist in the Korean Peninsula, in order to usher in a new season of peace and development.”
No pope has never visited North Korea before, so if Pope Francis goes, he will be making history.