Updated August. 19, 2014 05:26
In wrapping up his five-day visit to Korea Monday, Pope Francis sent one consistent message to our society: forgiveness. He said, "Forgive not just seven times, but 77 times."
During a Mass for peace and reconciliation at Myeongdong Cathedral in central Seoul on Monday, Pope Francis said in his homily, "Unless we are prepared to forgive someone who commits wrongdoings to us, how can we honestly pray for peace and reconciliation?" Pope Francis said, Jesus is asking us to believe that forgiveness is the only way to lead us to genuine reconciliation."
On Thursday, the first day of his trip to Korea, Pope Francis at a private Mass in Apostolic Nunciature in Seoul asked to embrace mind of forgiveness and grace, without criteria and without measuring with rules. At the Mass to which the pope presided over, some 1,000 people joined including seven women who were forced to sexual slavery for Japans army during World War II, families of those abducted to North Korea, North Korean defectors, residents of Gangjeong village in Jeju Island who are opposing to the construction of naval base and transmission tower there, residents of Miryang who are asking for the stop the construction of high-voltage transmission towers there, victims of Yongsan disaster, an incident during a police raid on a building designated for redevelopment in Yongsan, workers laid off from Ssangyong Motor and disabled people. More than 700 employees at the 16 Catholic churches nationwide were also invited and celebrated the Mass outside the cathedral through a screen.
Though not invited, some 1,500 citizens (police estimation) visited the cathedral to see the pope. Pope Francis didn`t ride in an open car and couldn`t get out of the car to approach people, but he still stretched out his hand and greeted people.
After meeting Korea`s religious leaders, Pope Francis with the priests walked to the altar stone, during which he grabbed hands of the seven former comfort women seated in wheelchairs on the front row. When Kim Bok-dong, one of the seven, gave the pope a butterfly badge, Father Chung Je-cheon who was interpreting pinned the badge at the pope`s attire. After his homily, Pope Francis said we should all pray to spread the awareness that all Koreans are brothers and sisters, constituents of a family and one race. He also urged efforts for the peace and reconciliation for South and North Korea.
Cardinal Yeom Soo-jung of the Archdiocese of Seoul said in his greetings message, "I was happy to be with the pope for the last five days," adding, "Owing to the pope`s prayer, I will pray more and make more efforts with all my heart and energy for the peace and reconciliation of our society and the world."
President Park Geun-hye, who attended the Mass at the Myeongdong Cathedral, told Pope Francis after the Mass was over, "Thank you for sending the message for the peace and reconciliation of the Korean Peninsula," to which the pope promised to pray for the day that people in the peninsula become one. After a farewell event at 12:50 p.m. in Seoul Airport in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, Pope Francis departed in a Korean Air flight. At 5 p.m., the Pope via his official Twitter account wrote in both Korean and English, "Trust in the power of Christ`s Cross! Receive His reconciling grace and share it!"