Pope Francis was forced to skip evening prayers during his trip to South Korea because he was behind schedule – to the disappointment but also amusement of the 5,000 nuns he had flown to visit.
A busy day had seen him celebrate Mass before hundreds of thousands of people in Seoul – before his flight 90 kilometres away to the community of Kkottognae that cares for disabled people.
“Good evening. There’s a little problem,” Pope Francis told the crowd. “We cannot pray the vespers together because we have a problem with the timing of the takeoff of my helicopter, and if we don’t take off within a certain time, there’s a danger we might smash into a mountain.”
Translated into Korean, the Pope’s apologies went down well as the nuns roared with laughter.
The Vatican’s spokesman explained that Francis had taken extra time to greet and bless around 60 disabled children and elderly residents.
Earlier he had beatified 124 of South Korea’s first Catholics at the open-air Mass in Seoul.