Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea, which has been condemned as one of the worst suppressors of religious freedom in the world, has invited Pope Francis to visit his country, South Korea’s government said Tuesday.
The invitation will be relayed by South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, a Roman Catholic, when he visits the Vatican for two days next week to seek the pope’s help in easing tensions on the divided Korean Peninsula, said Kim Eui-kyeom, a spokesman of Mr. Moon.
Mr. Moon met with Mr. Kim in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, last month.
“If the pope visits Pyongyang, we will give him a rousing welcome,” Mr. Kim told Mr. Moon, according to Mr. Moon’s spokesman.
There was no immediate comment from the Vatican on whether Francis would accept the invitation, but it is considered highly unlikely.
No pope has ever visited North Korea, whose totalitarian government cracks down on religious activities.
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