Pope-greets-South-Korean-comfort-women-forced-sex-slavery.

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Pope meets former comfort women at the mass in Seoul, S.Korea
Pope meets former comfort women at the mass in Seoul, S.Korea

Pope Francis greeted women who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military during World War II during a Mass at the end of his tour in South Korea.
In a poignant moment at the start of the service, Francis bent down and greeted seven women, many sitting in wheelchairs, who are pushing for a new apology and compensation for their ordeals.
One gave him a pin of a butterfly – a symbol of these ‘comfort women’s’ plight – which he immediately pinned to his vestments and wore throughout the Mass.
Francis said in his homily that reconciliation can be brought about only by forgiveness, even if it seems ‘impossible, impractical and even at times repugnant.’
Asking them to forgive: Pope Francis greets women who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military during World War II prior to the start of a Mass of reconciliation at Seoul’s main cathedral

Asking them to forgive: Pope Francis greets women who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military during World War II prior to the start of a Mass of reconciliation at Seoul’s main cathedral
Poignant: At the start of the service, Francis bent down and greeted seven women, many sitting in wheelchairs, who are pushing for a new apology and compensation from Japan for their ordeals

Poignant: At the start of the service, Francis bent down and greeted seven women, many sitting in wheelchairs, who are pushing for a new apology and compensation from Japan for their ordeals
‘Let us pray, then, for the emergence of new opportunities for dialogue, encounter and the resolution of differences, for continued generosity in providing humanitarian assistance to those in need and for an ever-greater recognition that all Koreans are brothers and sisters, members of one family, one people,’ he said.
The Pope received the butterfly pin from Kim Bok-dong, one of the ‘comfort women’ who attended his Mass.
These elderly South Koreans, many of whom regularly appear at rallies and other high-profile events, are looking for greater global attention as they push Japan to apologise.

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In an interview with The Associated Press before the Mass, another one of the women, Lee Yong-soo, who often speaks to the media, said she hoped the meeting would provide some solace for the pain she and others still feel more than seven decades after they were violated.
Francis wrapped up his first trip to Asia today by also challenging Koreans – from the North and the South – to reject the ‘mindset of suspicion and confrontation’ that clouds their relations and find new ways to forge peace on the war-divided peninsula.
One woman gave him a pin of a butterfly – a symbol of these ‘comfort women’s’ plight – which he immediately pinned to his vestments and wore throughout the Mass

One woman gave him a pin of a butterfly – a symbol of these ‘comfort women’s’ plight – which he immediately pinned to his vestments and wore throughout the Mass

PLIGHT OF THE ‘COMFORT WOMEN’
Historians say 20,000 to 200,000 women from across Asia, many of them Koreans, were forced to provide sex to Japan’s front-line soldiers.
Japanese nationalists contend that the so-called ‘comfort women’ in wartime brothels were voluntary prostitutes, not sex slaves, and that Japan has been unfairly criticised for a practice they say is common in any country at war.
Many South Korean women have demanded a full apology accompanied by official government compensation.
In 1995, Japan provided through a private fund 2million yen ($20,000) each to about 280 women in the Philippines, Taiwan and South Korea and funded nursing homes and medical assistance for Indonesian and former Dutch sex slaves.
But some survivors refused the cash because it did not come directly from the government.
Repeated wavering since the apology among senior right-wing politicians has contributed to a feeling in South Korea that Japan is in denial and not sufficiently remorseful.
Before boarding a plane back to Rome, the Pope held a Mass of reconciliation at Seoul’s main cathedral, attended by South Korean President Park Geun-hye as well as some North Korean defectors.
It was the final event of a five-day trip that confirmed the importance of Asia for this papacy and for the Catholic Church as a whole, given the church is young and growing there, while it is withering in traditionally Christian lands in Europe.
Francis’s plea for peace came as the United States and South Korea started a joint military drill that North Korea warned would result in a ‘merciless pre-emptive strike’ against the allies.
During his trip, the Pope reached out to China, North Korea and a host of other countries that have no relations with the Holy See.
The Pope will visit the Philippines in January, along with Sri Lanka.

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