Pope Francis who deeply touched all Koreans as well as Catholic believers returned to the Vatican on Monday. The pope created a craze among Koreans beyond their religion and generation as he showed a humble and humane behavior and visited the underprivileged during his five-day stay in Korea. People gushed out many internal issues that caused conflicts and divisions such as the Sewol ferry disaster to the pontiff. The pope healed the pain and suffering with tolerance and patience and Koreans were enthusiastic about his healing and comforting messages.
As the most senior person in the worlds catholic community and spiritual leader of our time, the pope was different from any other leaders. Koreans were particularly touched by his leadership lowering himself for the public and not ruling but serving people. He showed that the consistency of his words and actions is the key to communication and consensus. He is a good example of leadership that religious leaders and political leaders on this soil should follow.
The papal visit to Korea has left a strong impression but the pope did not urge prayers for North Korean people and bring the worlds attention on North Koreas human rights issues. Pope Francis said in the Mass for Peace and Reconciliation at the Myeongdong Cathedral on Sunday, Let us pray for an ever greater recognition that all Koreans are brothers and sisters, members of one family, one people. While the pope prayed for peace and reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula, he did not mention North Korean people.
In the run-up to the papal visit, National Catholic Register, a U.S-based catholic media, predicted that just as Pope John Paul II brought about a change in Eastern Europe by visiting his homeland Poland, Pope Francis would represent the voices of people who suffer in the most closed country in the world. It is regrettable as there were high expectations at home and abroad.
The pope who chose a smaller place, stayed a narrower place, and was with the underprivileged gave the light of healing to Koreans who have been confronted each other over distrust and hostility. Some people, however, interpreted the popes pure comfort in their own way and tried to encourage division and conflicts. This is against the popes teaching of uniting beyond difference.
The pope met with other religious leaders on Sunday and stressed open-mindedness, saying, Lets admit each other and walk together. The Korean society should respond to the popes message of reconciliation, consistency, and peace both on both the individual and community level. It is our task to grow the seeds of reconciliation and peace sown on the ground that the pope has left.