Pope Francis welcomes historic encounter between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un

President Donald Trump walks to the North Korean side of the border with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone, Sunday, June 30, 2019, in North Korea. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Pope Francis today, June 30, welcomed news of the meeting between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un and hailed it “as a good example of the culture of encounter.” Addressing pilgrims from many lands in St. Peter’s Square, he extended his greeting to “the protagonists” and prayed that “this significant gesture may constitute a further step on the path to peace, not only in the [Korean] peninsula for the whole world too.”

President Trump, who had been in Japan for the G20 meeting, traveled to Korea and met Kim Jong-Un at the demilitarized zone along the 38th parallel that separates North and South Korea since the end of World War II. At Kim’s invitation, he became the first sitting U.S. president to cross the demarcation line into North Korea. The two leaders first shook hands across that line and then Mr. Trump stepped into North Korea for just one minute, but it was a landmark moment of historic significance.

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President Trump met Kim Jong-Un at the demilitarized zone along the 38th parallel that separates North and South Korea. 

He and Mr. Kim shook hands as the world’s media captured the scene on camera and live-television. “Good to see you again. I never expected to meet you at this place,” a smiling Mr. Kim told Mr Trump through an interpreter. The U.S. president commented, “Big moment. Tremendous progress.” Then, according to the BBC, a relaxed Mr. Kim crossed into South Korea alongside Mr. Trump and said: “I believe this is an expression of his willingness to eliminate all the unfortunate past and open a new future.”

Afterwards, the two leaders conversed together for one hour in Freedom House on the South Korean side and agreed to set up teams to resume the stalled talks on denuclearization. They were joined for a short time by South Korea’s President, Moon Jae-in, a Catholic, who has played an active role to help move talks forward. It was the first time the three leaders met together.

It was the third meeting between Trump and Kim in a process that is ultimately aimed at the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and the lifting of sanctions imposed by the United States because of North Korea’s nuclear program. The two leaders first met in Singapore on June 12, 2018 and had a second encounter in Hanoi last February (27-28) that failed, it seems, because of the pace of the denuclearization program and the lifting of sanctions.

Pope Francis is well aware of the fragile and often dramatic reality in the Korean peninsula.

Pope Francis is well aware of the fragile and often dramatic reality in the Korean peninsula. He has followed closely the efforts to bring peace between North Korea, a country of 25 million people (with perhaps a few hundred Catholics), and South Korea.

Francis visited South Korea in August 2014, where there is a vibrant Catholic church with some 5.5 million members or just over 10 percent of the South Korean population. At the end of that visit he celebrated a nationally televised Mass in the cathedral of Myeong-dong in Seoul “for the peace and reconciliation” of the Korean people whose country has been divided along the 38th parallel since the end of World War II in 1945 and have suffered conflict and division, also within families, since the Korean War (1950-53), which ended with an armistice truce, not peace.

 

In his homily at that Mass, he invited everyone 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. They speak the same language.”

Pope Francis will be near Korea again in the second half of November when he visits Japan. The South Korean President Moon last year brought him a verbal invitation on October 18 from Mr. Kim to visit Pyongyang, the North Korean capital. Vatican sources then told America there is a willingness on the pontiff’s part to go there if the conditions are right, but North Korea has yet to formalize that invitation.

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Crystal Watson
5 months 1 week ago

Trump embraces another murderous dictator, while at the same time making no progress on denuclearizing N. Korea. Trump is a master of empty photo-ops.

JR Cosgrove
5 months 1 week ago

Quote - If Trump exhibits any kind of firmness with dictators, the MSM becomes overwrought and claims that war is imminent. If he acts presidential and doesn't cause a scene when meeting with a dictator then it's unsavory. Of course, if Trump elected to not engage any of them he would be derided for his lack of diplomacy.

Too predictable. I know, I know, it was all orchestrated by Putin. Must get a hold of the talking points you read.

Crystal Watson
5 months 1 week ago

Trump wants to emulate Putin, Kim, BMS. He wants to get rid of a free press, as they have. He wants to stay in power indefinitely, as they do. He wants to enrich himself at his country's expense, like they do. So he kisses their asses, but accomplishes nothing substantive beyond that.

Warren Patton
5 months 1 week ago

I don't see denuclearization as our goal in regards to North Korea. I don't think it's Trump's goal, or Moon's, and I don't think it should be. I can't see a reason- short of losing a war- why North Korea would willingly disarm. Since denuclearization is a non-starter the determination to achieve denuclearization is a roadblock to peace.

arthur mccaffrey
5 months 1 week ago

I am not a Trump supporter but I do admire his seat of the pants initiatives that take advantage of opportunity like this instead of worrying about protocol. Yes, maybe Francis has it right, this is an encounter inspired by the Holy Spirit. Whoever thought the Big D would have charism?!!

Crystal Watson
5 months 1 week ago

Yeah, the Holy Spirit has chosen Trump .... a liar, a white-nationalist, an adulterer, a child-cager, a climate change denier, a serial rapist .... to accomplish the great feat of, um, kissing the N. Korean dictator's ass,. Will wonders never cease? How did we survive without him for so long? Thank God!

Daniel B
5 months 1 week ago

Crystal, are you saying that the Holy Spirit does not have the power to move even the most abhorrent people to do the right thing?

Crystal Watson
5 months 1 week ago

I'm saying that it's disingenuous to suggest Trump is being moved by the Holy Spirit. There's no evidence of that. "By their fruit you will know them" ... Trump's "fruit" is horrible.

Warren Patton
5 months 1 week ago

To accomplish the feat, hopefully, of creating peace. It seems to me that a lot of people on the Left have internalized the neocon view that the only valid foreign policy towards authoritarian leaders is to try to remove them from power. It is a good thing that Trump is negotiating with the North Korean leader. It can lead to greater peace and stability on the Korean peninsula. And Trump is hardly the first president to praise a world leader he is attempting to negotiate with. We can't take a Manichean view on foreign policy; that leads to hawkishness. No, scratch that, it *is* hawkishness.

And this isn't about Trump's character. It's about whether rapprochement with North Korea is a good idea. I would regard it the same way regardless of who was behind the effort. ( Incidentally it could be argued that Moon was the prime instigator, not Trump)

Crystal Watson
5 months 1 week ago

Christians suddenly don't care about character, now that their choice of president is a horrible person. How convenient. Trump isn't negotiating peace ... he has no idea how to do that ... he is appeasing a dictator in hopes he can get a Nobel Peace Prize.

Warren Patton
5 months 1 week ago

"Appeasement" is just a neocon buzzword. It's not 1939 and Kim Jong Un isn't Hitler. I'm happy that Trump and KIm Jong Un have an understanding as long as it leads towards peace. And it has. Three years ago I was reading columns speculating on how many people would die in the first 24 hours of an attack on Saigon. Now things are much calmer. Hopefully it will lead to a stronger understanding- lifting of sanctions, some travel permitted between the two Koreas, economic cooperation, a nuclear freeze- but it is indeed possible that it won't get that far. Still the fact these things are even being discussed is a big step forward, I'm not worried about "appeasing" dictators. In fact I think fear of appeasing dictators is hawkish thinking.

But if this is just an excuse for Trump to pal around with a dictator, then why is Moon there? Moon Jae-In has supported rapprochement at every step. I think that shows these talks are bigger and more important then just puffery on Trump's part.

Crystal Watson
5 months 1 week ago

Sure, Moon wants a decrease in tensions and some kind of peace. Moon's aspirations are independent of Trump and would be the same no matter who was the US president.
Trump has accomplished nothing. He is a coward and a bully, and his only "policy" is to rant and rave and threaten, then later back down and spin the decrease in tension as the fruit of his genius peace plan. He's trying to do the same thing with Iran. He doesn't care about North or South Korea or Japan, or even about the US. He only cares about how he himself can profit. He's a grifter.

Judith Jordan
5 months 1 week ago

Warren Patton---
I know many people on the left, but none of them have internalized the neocon view. Trump’s boys, Bolton and Pompeo, do enough of that on their own.

Warren Patton
5 months 1 week ago

I disagree. Watching MSNBC I see them spouting hawkish ideas constantly. It's not as overt as certain talking heads on Fox but its definitely there. Ideas have an influence beyond the people who openly subscribe to them. When liberal outlets criticize Trump for being an "isolationist" (even though he's not even really a dove), or call for America to be "engaged", or criticize "appeasement" they show that they have internalized hawkish neocon-type thinking, even if they would never admit it to themselves.

Judith Jordan
5 months 1 week ago

Warren Patton---
I think liberals want the U S to be engaged with the world. That does not necessarily translate into being hawkish. Rather than listening to most talking heads, I recommend reading some liberal scholars on foreign policy.

Dr.Cajetan Coelho
5 months 1 week ago

Peace is the way forward. May there be peace in our hearts and minds worldwide.

Opting Out
5 months 1 week ago

Beautiful response. While at the gym early this morning the TV monitors had the morning news shows and I saw Trump crossing the DMZ. I really find Trump abhorrent but Hillary was just as loathsome. I fear Americans now look for their politicians to “help them” instead of working interiorly with the help of neighbors when necessary. So we continue to pray for the conversion of America to rid us of the first world problems Americans love to sing

Crystal Watson
5 months 1 week ago

This is bizarre. Your are supporting a rapist.

Judith Jordan
5 months 1 week ago

Jose M. Castellano Hernandez--
Anyone who thinks that Hillary is as loathsome as Trump is someone who is not paying attention.

Opting Out
5 months 1 week ago

Judith Jordan Anyone who thinks that Hillary is as loathsome as Trump is someone who is not paying attention.

Will you be throwing “milkshakes” (cement mix, toxic ingredients) like Antifa and threatening bodily harm on those who disagree with you like Stephanie Wilknson, the owner of Red Hen Restaurant in Lexington, VA?

Hillary and Trump are both monsters and their followers are sad ignorant people

Judith Jordan
5 months 1 week ago

No I shall not be throwing anything. My protests are always peaceful. I don't think Antifa supports Hillary; they think she is too conservative. If you want to look at violence, I suggest reading about the right or violent people who claim to support Trump. The numbers are much higher than Hillary supporters. Again, one cannot rationally believe Hillary is as deplorable as Trump.

jeanne tassinari
5 months 1 week ago

I totally agree with Crystal. This country is in a struggle to survive under the leadership of someone whose main purpose in life is to have the admiration and love of Russian and North Korean dictators. Our Holy Father is a holy man but he speaks from Understandable naivety and lack of knowledge of the true nature of this psychotic tv star.

Marina Barnett
5 months 1 week ago

I have long since given up on attributing any altruistic motive to any thing trump says or does. I observe his behavior and see that he gives no respect to anyone who is powerless and unable to help propel him to new heights. All of his meetings with cruel dictators are merely dog-and-pony shows that only serve as displays for him to brag about what a "wonderful" job he is doing as the "first", the "best", the "only", etc. If he really cared about this country, he would direct his energies to helping the "least of us" and not toadying up to morally bankrupt power mongers like himself.

Stanley Kopacz
5 months 1 week ago

A nice belly-to-belly summit. I'd like to see them polka.

John Rysavy
5 months 1 week ago

So when Obama told Putin he would have more “flexibility” after the 2012 elections/visited the Castro brothers/and gave away $150 billion to Iran-you were ok Crystal? You seem to always pick the lefty position on every America position & by golly you sure like to name call.

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