On the first four days of December, a group of Korean Bishops made a trip to North Korea. Bishops and priests have made the trip as individuals but this was the first official trip by a group of bishops. One of the priests who accompanied the bishops writes his impressions of the trip for the Peace Weekly.
The distance from Seoul to Pyongyang is only 155 miles. They arrived in Beijing, and the flight to Pyongyang was delayed two hours. The trip from the time they left Seoul, and arriving in Pyongyang took almost 12 hours. They were greeted at the airport by a contingent from the Changchung Cathedral in Pyongyang and the Chosun Catholic Association. The arrival at the airport was not complicated and contrary to expectation, they were permitted to have their smart phones, cell phones and cameras which they used frequently during the trip. On the second day, they went sightseeing in bustling Pyongyang.
On the third day, they visited the Changchung Cathedral. At the front of the Church, they were greeted by the choir of six women all exquisitely dressed; facilitating admirably the liturgy of the Mass. About 70 to 80 attended the Mass, and the participation showed they were familiar with the liturgy.
The day of the Mass was the Feast Day of St. Francis Xavier, and the president of the bishops' conference who was the main celebrant, mentioned that we needed to evangelize ourselves if we want to be missioners. During the Mass, an Icon of the Mother and Child, symbolizing the desire for peace between the North and South was presented to the catechist of the cathedral. They found a photograph of Pope Francis, presented a few years before, by a group of priests to the community, on the wall of the sacristy.
The vice president of the Supreme People's Assembly, invited the delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly where he thanked the Church of the South for their efforts toward peace from the time of Fr. Mun's visit up until the present, and stressed the importance of the meeting of the leaders of the North and South. This was an unexpected official welcoming of the delegation from the South.
The faces of those they met were all welcoming and always natural, smiling and joking with the group from the South. Employees were all polished in the way they reacted with the group. The bishops did a lot of talking with the representatives of the Church in the North, bringing them closer together. They promised to work for a better tomorrow, repair the Cathedral and in the future work to have priests go to the North for the big feast days of the year.