Pope Francis has hinted that the Vatican wants to improve relations with China and North Korea.
As he continued to receive a warm welcome from Catholic on his trip to South Korea, he told an audience of some 70 bishops from 35 Asian countries called for greater dialogue with “countries in Asia with whom the Holy See does not yet enjoy a full relationship”.
On Thursday, the Pope’s plane was allowed to cross Chinese air space for the first time en route to Seoul.
During that flight, Francis sent an unprecedented message of goodwill to Beijing, telling President Xi Jinping he was praying for peace and well-being for all Chinese people.
The Vatican has held out olive branches to China several times before. But the Church’s recognition of Taiwan as an independent state still irritates Chinese officials.
Beijing noted the Pope’s comments and reiterated that it was also sincere about improving relations.
Also on Sunday, Francis baptised the father of a victim of the South Korean ferry disaster, which killed more than 300 people – mostly school children – in April.