In a typical news cycle, the pope and North Korea aren’t in the same paragraph, much less the same sentence. Yet, news was out yesterday about an invitation to Pope Francis to consider visiting the Hermit Kingdom.
Questions abound. How many Catholics still exist there? Would the pope merely hobnob with the powers-that-be or actually deliver a sermon to the masses? Would his visit come with certain conditions insisted upon by the Vatican?
Also, considering the horrific religious persecution in that country, what North Korean citizen in his or her right mind would wish to publicly show allegiance to a pope? This Nixon-goes-to-China possibility comes with some W’s: We know “who” and “where” and can guess “how,” but we don’t know “why” or “when.”
Here’s what BBC said:
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has invited Pope Francis to visit the country, South Korea's presidential office has announced.
The invitation to visit Pyongyang will be delivered by South Korean president Moon Jae-in who will be in the Vatican next week as part of a trip to Europe.
No pope has ever visited North Korea, though the late Pope John Paul II was once invited.
North Korea and the Vatican have no formal diplomatic relations.
The aforementioned papal invite was extended in 2000, the article says.
According to news wire the Associated Press, the Vatican insisted at the time that a visit from the pope would only happen if Catholic priests were accepted in North Korea.
After a description of the complete lack of religious freedom in the country:
According to news site NK News, North Korea does maintain a Catholic church in Pyongyang - the Jangchung Catholic Church — though it is not officially affiliated with the Vatican.