Pope Francis will make his first trip to Asia as Pope in August, visiting South Korea to beatify 124 Korean martyrs and bring a message of peace to the divided peninsula, the Vatican announced yesterday, reports The Tablet.
Francis will lead celebrations at a major Catholic youth festival, Asian Youth Day. According to AsiaNews a special Mass for peace and reunification of the Korean Peninsula will take place during his stay. The trip, scheduled for 14-18 August, will be Francis’ second foreign visit this year after a visit to Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Territories in May.
The journey marks the first papal visit to Korea in 25 years. Pope John Paul II travelled to the country in 1984, when he canonised 103 Korean martyrs, and again in 1989.
Pope Francis told reporters last summer on the flight back from Brazil, his first foreign trip as Pope, that he wanted to go to Asia because Pope Benedict XVI never managed to get to the continent, aside from a brief trip to Turkey in 2006.
Francis last month approved the beatification of another 124 Korean martyrs. Around 10,000 Catholics, most of them laity, were killed for their faith in successive waves of persecution in nineteenth-century Korea where Confucianism was the predominant ideology.
The Vatican has denied statements made by Israeli Foreign Ministry sources, who said their labor strike forced the Pontiff to cancel his shceduled trip to Israel in May, reports The Times of Israel.
Vatican says Pope’s Israel visit still on, for now (Times of Israel)
Pope Francis forced to cancel Israel visit (Times of Israel)