The Vatican's top envoy in Korea has delivered Pope Francis's donation of 10,000 euros ($11,626) to a local bishop who has advocated for the rights of Yemeni asylum seekers on the southern resort island of Jeju, his office said Sunday.
Archbishop Alfred Xuereb made an official visit to Jeju on Saturday to renew the pontiff's support for Bishop Peter Kang U-il, who has said that rejecting refugees and migrants amounts to a "crime that shuns the least responsibility one should take as a human being."
During his first visit to the island since he took office in late May as the Vatican's apostolic nuncio for Korea, Xuereb also met Yemeni refugees and celebrated a mass with the bishop at a cathedral.
"The purpose of his visit is to reiterate the will of Pope Francis, who wishes to uphold Bishop Kang U-il, who recently published a pastoral letter with regard to the 527 Yemeni refugees that arrived recently on the island, which is in perfect harmony with the Papal teachings and documents on refugees," Xuereb's office said in a press release.
Pope Francis has been supporting refugees who have continued their treacherous journey away from conflict-laden areas of Africa and the Middle East. He has reportedly said, "Above all, the Lord needs our hearts to show his merciful love toward the least, the outcast, the abandoned, the marginalized."
The Yemenis have entered Korea on the island's visa-free program that allows foreigners to stay for up to three months without restrictions. Their sudden arrivals have sparked concerns about possible bogus claimants seeking economic advantages.
Before leaving the island, Xuereb stopped by the April 3 Peace Park for some moments of prayers, his office said. The park commemorates the victims of a government-civilian clash from 1948-1954, an outgrowth of Korea's ideological division following its 1945 liberation from Japan's colonial rule.
Xuereb assumed the diplomatic post, which had been vacant since his predecessor, Archbishop Osvaldo Padilla, retired in September. (Yonhap)