Seoul (Agenzia Fides) - The Catholic community in South Korea is commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of the war that devastated the peninsula from 1950 to 1953. To mark the occasion, the Korean Church has announced a solemn novena of prayer for reconciliation and national unity to be held nationwide from June 17-25, 2023. The initiative, organized by the National Reconciliation Committee within the Bishops' Conference of South Korea and proposed to parishes, communities and Catholic associations of all the dioceses, includes a special prayer intention for each day: on June 17th one prays for conversion towards a peaceful unification; the 18th for political leaders, to be peacemakers; on June 19 for the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and for a world free of nuclear weapons; June 20 for those suffering from economic sanctions; June 21 for the evangelization of the Korean peninsula; on 22 June for families separated by the border and for those who fled North Korea; June 23 for reconciliation and national unity; June 24 for all peacemakers; on June 25 - the day the war broke out - for the complete end of the war on the Korean peninsula and for lasting peace in Korea. On the final day, a Mass for peace is to be celebrated in each parish.
The prayer for peace will also be accompanied by a national symposium held in Seoul on June 20, 2023, centered on the 70th anniversary of the end of the war and the division of Korea. It will be attended by members of the Bishops' Conference Commission on Reconciliation, including Prelate Joo-Young Kim, chairman of the committee, as well as researchers from the University of North Korean Studies department and the Seoul National University Institute for Peace and Unification Studies. The symposium sees itself as a moment of reflection to look back on the past 70 years and to design new perspectives for peace and reconciliation.
Furthermore, another special moment of national prayer is scheduled for July 27, the day on which, exactly 70 years ago, the armistice of the conflict that raged on the Korean peninsula from June 25, 1950 to July 27, 1953 was signed. Panmunjeom ended the fighting by establishing a new demarcation line between North and South Korea along the so-called "Korean Demilitarized Zone".
Representatives of the Christian Churches of other confessions will also take part in the ecumenical prayer for peace: they will all commemorate the victims of the inter-Korean conflict, which claimed around three million dead, wounded and missing, half of them civilians. 70 years after these events, Christian communities in Korea are still calling for "an immediate formal declaration of the end of the Korean War" and the passage of a peace treaty to replace the 1953 Armistice Agreement, which is technically still in effect. But this political process, the churches state, can only be initiated on the basis of spiritual steps such as forgiveness and mutual reconciliation. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 25/5/2023)