Pope warns wealthy Koreans about plight of poor

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Pope warns wealthy Koreans about plight of poor

Pope warns wealthy Koreans about plight of poor
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In South Korea, an estimated 800,000 people turned out to see Pope Francis conduct a Beatification ceremony of Korean martyrs on Saturday.

The giant open-air Mass took place in the capital Seoul.

Beatification is the last step before sainthood in the Catholic Church – in this case for 124 murdered Christians through recent Korean history.

In his speech, Pope Francis also hit out at the growing wealth divide, calling on followers to listen to “the cry of the poor”.

“Their (the martyrs) example has much to say to us who live in societies where,alongside immense wealth, dire poverty is silently growing; where the cry of the poor is seldom heeded and where Christ continues to call out to us, asking us to love and serve him by tending to our brothers and sisters in need,” the Pontiff said.

Some commentators thought his message would be a tough listen for many Koreans. South Korea has quickly become one of the world’s wealthiest nations where average salaries are higher than Norway and Japan.

Many attendees described being moved by Francis’ presence, the first visit to the country by a Pope since 1989.

“With the Pope officiating the mass himself, I was honoured. This isn’t an opportunity that will happen again soon, so I think it was a meaningful time,” said Seo Ji-young, a student from Illsan.

Another worshipper, banker Bae Joo-hee said she hoped his trip would leave a positive legacy.

“Right now the country is very depressed, in general. I don’t think we should get carried away by that mood. I think the Pope’s visit will be a turning point to change that atmosphere,” she said.

Around 10 percent of Koreans are Catholics; the Church adds some 100,000 new members every year.

Pope Francis will remain in South Korea until Monday.