Pope Francis plans to meet with the families of those victimized in April’s ferry disaster and student survivors during his upcoming visit to South Korea, organizers said Tuesday.
The pope is scheduled to visit South Korea on Aug. 14-18 to celebrate a gathering of Catholic youths in Asia and for a ceremony to beatify 124 Korean Catholic martyrs.
“The pope will meet face-to-face with families of the Sewol ferry victims and students who survived the incident when they come to attend a Mass to mark the Assumption Day to be held at Daejeon World Cup Stadium on Aug. 15,” the preparation committee for the papal visit said during a regular press briefing.
Assumption Day is a major Catholic feast that commemorates the death of the Virgin Mary and her bodily assumption into heaven.
During the meeting to be held in a vestry shortly after the Aug. 15 Mass, the pontiff will console the survivors and the bereaved families suffering from one of the country’s worst peacetime disasters, the committee said.
The 6,825-ton ferry, the Sewol, carrying an estimated 476 people, sank off the country’s southwest coast on April 16, leaving more than 300 people dead or missing. Most of the victims were high school students on a field trip to the southern resort island of Jeju.
Meanwhile, the committee said it is unlikely that North Korea will send a delegation to the papal Mass to be held in Seoul on Aug. 18 to pray for inter-Korean peace and reconciliation.
At a meeting held in Shenyang, China, in May, South Korea invited members of the North Korean Catholic Church to the event. (Yonhap)