Catholic Church/Faith-Based Efforts to Engage North Korea and to Advance Peace Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio (Archdiocese for Military Services, USA) A unique perspective on the Korean peninsula and the conflict there has been afforded to me, because the ministry entrusted to me as Archbishop for the Military Services USA has brought me to Korea on several occasions. As has been indicated, the United States has about 28,000 troops stationed in South Korea so what happens on that peninsula has significant consequences, not only for Korea, but also for the USA and its allies, as well as, for regional and global stability. The United States and Korea share a long history, sometimes tumultuous and not without problems. However, Americans and South Koreans have fought, bled, and died together. That fact forges a strong bond. Some 6.8 million American men and women served in the Korean War; thousands died, and their sacrifice is honored. The Cause for the Canonization of the Servant of God, Father Emil Kapaun, who died as a POW in North Korea in 1951 has been opened. Certainly, his sacrifice and that of both Koreans and Americans who died would be better honored if today we can make some small steps toward “breaking the impasse” in order to promote peace in that divided land. In December 2018 as Chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, I made a solidarity visit to South Korea. That visit allowed me to interact with several Korean bishops, many of whom have traveled to Washington, DC to be part of this momentous conference. The then-Korean Minister for Unification also made time to receive us. Throughout all these meetings the commitment of the Church in South Korea in favor of significant steps for the resolution of the conflict on the Korean peninsula was evident. Returning from my visit to Korea, I undertook to amplify the Korean bishops’ concerns about the situation on the Korean peninsula to a broader audience. I shared the insights gleaned from that trip with both my brother bishops here in the United States but also with the bishops of Canada, England and Wales, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Scandinavia, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, and Andorra, as well as, with the Catholic bishops of the European Community. I also wrote letters to the State Department and the National Security Council sharing the views of the Korean bishops. While there may be some differences among the Korean bishops as to the pace of opening to North Korea, there was unanimity of recognizing that the crisis on the Korean peninsula cannot be resolved by military means alone. Focusing only on a military response readily amplifies the arms race, exacerbating tensions and directing much-needed resources away from the root causes of conflict – fear of the “other” and what they can do to threaten the survival of each side’s way of life. Sanctions have been applied for years on North Korea and that does not seem to have made much of a difference as the Kim regime has continued to develop its nuclear and missile programs. Denuclearization of North Korea, still the eventual goal from the U.S. and Catholic Church perspective, remains an elusive target. So, if a military response and sanctions have not been effective in achieving the goal of bringing peace to the Korean peninsula, it is time to look at other options. Some of you may have seen that Pope Francis recently said that he would welcome an invitation from North Korea to visit. Although, before the Korean War, Pyongyang was once considered the “Jerusalem of the East,” if he were to visit it would be the first time that a pope would go to that reclusive state. As Catholics, we believe any such efforts to make peace can only be of lasting effect through the power of prayer. This is a weapon of hope, not a sentimental afterthought. This is why Cardinal Yeom consecrated Pyongyang to Our Lady of Fatima on June 25, 2020, 70 years after the Korean War began. May all such efforts for peace be immersed in prayer, by faith. Promoting non-violent ways to resolve conflict, the Catholic Church in Korea and other faith-based groups have played an outsized role in extending the hand of friendship toward North Korea and encouraging engagement as a way to advance peace, to go beyond the arms race and sanctions to open a dialogue. They did that when they provided food aid in the 1990s during the famine in North Korea. They did that in supporting healthcare workers and sending medicine to tuberculosis patients in North Korea. They did that in 2015 when several Korean bishops made that historic trip to Pyongyang as you saw in that video clip that Bishop Lee just played. During the pandemic, North Korea chose to isolate itself further, distrustful of contact with the outside world, particularly with the United States and the West. Given the difficulty of sending information into Korea, it is hard to gauge the awareness of the average North Korean or how much they understand about what is happening outside of North Korea. The main problem, as I see it now, is what might provoke the North Koreans to engage. The South Korean Catholic Church is on the ground, looking for any opportunities to engage with North Korea. The Catholic Church in the United States supports the South Korean Catholic Church’s outreach and joins with them in recognizing the need for alternative approaches and new ideas to de-escalate the conflict and take some steps, small as they may be initially, toward resolving differences and opening up prospects for peace on the Korean peninsula. This will be a long journey and a difficult one. Jesus says in the Gospel of Matthew, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” I would hope that today’s conference and the exchange of views today and tomorrow will give us new inspiration and courage to be peacemakers, knowing we will be blessed as we take such steps however small or big.