The Korea Herald

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지나쌤

Lee meets envoy from the Vatican

By 김소현

Published : May 24, 2011 - 18:58

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President Lee Myung-bak on Tuesday met with a senior Vatican official in charge of promoting dialogue with other religions and expressed his respect for such efforts, the presidential office said.

French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue at the Vatican, arrived in Seoul on Monday for a five-day trip that includes a visit to the headquarters of South Korea’s largest Buddhist sect, the Jogye Order, and a meeting with the representatives of seven religions practiced here.

On Tuesday, Tauran paid a visit to Lee, and the two discussed inter-faith exchanges through understanding and dialogue as well as the role of religions, Cheong Wa Dae said in a press release.

Lee, a Protestant, expressed his respect for the Vatican’s efforts to promote dialogue between religions by offering congratulatory messages on Buddha’s birthday or at the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

“President Lee noted that if North Korea accepts the freedom of religion, it would greatly help the society harmonize after reunification (with the South),” Lee’s spokesperson Kim Hee-jung said in a daily press briefing.

The president also mentioned that religion played a key role in integrating the German society after reunification of the East and West, she said.

Tauran replied that he hopes to see a genuine Korean reunification achieved through friendship, cultural or religious exchanges, instead of by institutions, according to Kim.

By Kim So-hyun (sophie@heraldcorp.com)