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Tipsheet

Kim Jong Un Invites Pope Francis to North Korea

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has invited Pope Francis to visit Pyongyang, according to South Korea’s presidential office. 

The invitation will be delivered by South Korean President Moon Jae-in next week during his visit to the Vatican as part of a trip to Europe.

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"During the meeting with Pope Francis, [Moon] will relay the message from Chairman Kim Jong-un that he would ‘greatly welcome’ the Pope if he visits Pyongyang," Moon's spokesman, Kim Eui-kyeom, told reporters.

While no pope has ever visited the Hermit Kingdom, Pope John Paul II was invited once. 

A papal visit to Pyongyang risks courting controversy for the Vatican, which recently signed a contentious agreement with China on the appointment of bishops in the world’s most populous country. North Korea has among the world’s worst human-rights records and operates a network of political prison camps where survivors have said they were subjected to torture, forced labor and starvation.

The Vatican doesn’t have diplomatic relations with Pyongyang, which has a history of suppressing religion, but the two sides have had informal contacts over the years. (WSJ)

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The Vatican has not yet issued a direct response to the invitation, but Cardinal Pietro Parolin will celebrate a "Mass for Peace" for the Korean Peninsula on Oct. 17 at St. Peter's Basilica, the Vatican secretary of state said. 

North Korea has ranked No. 1 on Open Doors's World Watch List for the last 14 years. The annual report ranks the 50 countries where Christians are most severely persecuted. 

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