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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
03VATICAN5264 2003-11-20 07:13:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Vatican
Cable title:  

VATICAN-NORTH KOREA CONTACTS ON HOLD PENDING

Tags:   KIRF KN KS PHUM PREL VT 
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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L VATICAN 005264 

SIPDIS


DEPT FOR EUR/WE LEVIN; DRL/IRF FOR INBODEN; EAP/K

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/18/2013
TAGS: KIRF KN KS PHUM PREL VT
SUBJECT: VATICAN-NORTH KOREA CONTACTS ON HOLD PENDING
OUTCOME OF SIX-PARTY TALKS

REF: A. A) VATICAN 3436


B. B) 02 VATICAN 5461

CLASSIFIED BY: AMBASSADOR JIM NICHOLSON. REASONS: 1.5 (B) AND (D).

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SUMMARY
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1. (C) THE HOLY SEE'S OFFICE DIRECTOR FOR NORTH AND SOUTH
KOREA, MONSIGNOR LUIS MONTEMAYOR, TOLD DCM NOVEMBER 18 THAT
THE VATICAN'S PERIODIC SENIOR LEVEL CONTACTS WITH PYONGYANG
WERE IN SUSPENSION PENDING THE RESULTS OF THE SIX-PARTY TALKS
ON NORTH KOREA'S NUCLEAR ARMS PROGRAM. THE HOLY SEE HOPED
THAT AN EVENTUAL AGREEMENT WITH NORTH KOREA VIA THE GROUP OF
SIX PROCESS WOULD CREATE AN OPENING FOR A RESUMPTION OF
CONTACTS WITH THE DPRK. IN PAST CONTACTS, THE HOLY SEE HAS
FOCUSED NARROWLY ON RELIGIOUS FREEDOM AND HUMANITARIAN RELIEF
WORK THROUGH CARITAS, BOTH AIMED AT CREATING A SMALL SPACE
FOR THE GROWTH OF RELIGIOUS WORSHIP THAT COULD EVENTUALLY
HAVE A SPIN OFF ON OTHER HUMAN RIGHTS.



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FEAR OF CHURCH DESPITE LACK OF FAITHFUL


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2. (C) MONTEMAYOR EMPHASIZED THAT THE DPRK GOVERNMENT
REMAINED WARY OF THE VATICAN, EVEN THOUGH THE CHURCH PRESENCE
OVER TIME AND THROUGH PERSECUTION HAD BECOME VIRTUALLY
NONEXISTENT IN NORTH KOREA. THE NORTH KOREANS FEAR THE U.S.
MOST OF CALL," MONTEMAYOR OBSERVED, BUT THEY ARE ALSO
TERRIFIED OF THE POTENTIAL INFLUENCE OF RELIGION -- AND OF
THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN PARTICULAR WHICH CONTINUES TO GROW
RAPIDLY IN SOUTH KOREA.



3. (C) MONTEMAYOR POINTED OUT THAT THERE WAS NO
ECCLESIASTICAL STRUCTURE IN NORTH KOREA, EVEN THOUGH THERE
MAY BE SCATTERED BAPTIZED CATHOLICS STILL LIVING. THE HOLY
SEE IS NOT AWARE OF ANY LIVING CLERGY MEMBERS IN THE COUNTRY,
AND NOTES THAT THE FATE OF THE LAST BISHOP OF PYONGYANG, HONG
YONG-HO HAS REMAINED A MYSTERY SINCE 1962. HE IS STILL KEPT
IN THE VATICAN BOOKS AS THE BISHOP, WITH A NOTE THAT HIS
WHEREABOUTS ARE UNKNOWN. WHEN THE VATICAN HAS ASKED ABOUT
INDIVIDUAL CLERGY MEMBERS, THE DPRK GOVERNMENT HAS TOLD THE
VATICAN THAT ALL THE CATHOLICS WERE KILLED BY AMERICAN
BOMBING DURING THE WAR, WHICH THEY INSIST TARGETED CHURCHES.
IN FACT, MONTEMAYOR NOTED, MANY NORTH KOREAN CATHOLICS FLED
TO THE SOUTH DURING THE KOREAN WAR, AND THERE IS STILL A
PRESENCE OF NORTH KOREAN CATHOLICS THERE. THIS FACTOR, AND
THE STRENGTH OF THE SOUTH KOREAN CATHOLIC CHURCH, IS ENOUGH
TO PRESENT A THREAT TO THE PARANOID PYONGYANG GOVERNMENT,
WHICH HAS RESISTED VATICAN EFFORTS TO REESTABLISH ANY
ECCLESIASTICAL STRUCTURE.



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POSITIONING FOR THE FUTURE


--------------------------





4. (C) AS IT NOW STANDS, THE ARCHBISHOP OF SEOUL SERVES AS
APOSTOLIC ADMINISTRATOR FOR PYONGYANG. THIS IRRITATES THE
NORTH KOREANS, WHO GRATE AT THE IDEA OF BEING IN ANY WAY
SUBORDINATED TO AN ORGANIZATION IN SEOUL. TO AVOID THIS
'IGNOMINY' THE HOLY SEE HAS OFFERED TO ESTABLISH A BISHOP FOR
PYONGYANG WITH HIS OWN STRUCTURE, BUT THE NORTH KOREANS HAVE
YET TO TAKE THE BAIT. IF ANY MODEST OPENING COULD BE
ACHIEVED IN NORTH KOREA, THE HOLY SEE WOULD BE VERY WELL
POSITIONED TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IT, DRAWING ON THEIR STRONG
AND GROWING CHURCH STRUCTURE IN SOUTH KOREA. AS MONTEMAYOR
OBSERVED WITH A WRY SMILE, "THIS IS ONE CASE WHERE WE HAVE
PRIESTS IN ABUNDANCE -- AND THEY SPEAK THE LANGUAGE."



5. (C) MONTEMAYOR SAID THAT HE AND VATICAN DEPUTY FOREIGN
MINISTER MONSIGNOR PIETRO PAROLIN WOULD LIKELY RESUME
CONTACTS NEXT YEAR - IDEALLY AFTER A AGREEMENT HAD BEEN
ACHIEVED LEADING TO THE DISMANTLEMENT OF NORTH KOREA'S
NUCLEAR WEAPONS PROGRAMS. PAROLIN'S PREDECESSOR, ARCHBISHOP
MIGLIORE, VISITED PYONGYANG FIVE TIMES TO KEEP A LINE OF
COMMUNICATION OPEN. AT THE SAME TIME, MONTEMAYOR
ACKNOWLEDGED THE VATICAN'S DIFFICULTIES IN TRYING TO OPEN UP
SPACE FOR RELIGIOUS PRACTICE IN THE REPRESSIVE REGIME. FOR
THE TIME BEING, THEY WOULD CONTINUE TO PROVIDE SUBSTANTIAL
AID TO THROUGH CARITAS INTERNATIONAL AND AFFILIATED
CHARITIES, WHILE ENSURING THIS AID WOULD NOT BE FUNNELED TO
THE DPRK GOVERNMENT OR MILITARY (REF. A). IN ADDITION, THE
HOLY SEE CONTINUES TO TRY TO ENCOURAGE PERSONAL CONTACT
BETWEEN NORTH AND SOUTH TO THE LIMITED EXTENT POSSIBLE.

NICHOLSON

NNNN

2003VATICA05264 - Classification: CONFIDENTIAL