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North Korea rejects participation in papal mass in Seoul

Published on Aug 5, 2014 12:30 PM

SEOUL (AFP) - North Korea appears to have declined an invitation to send Catholic believers to a mass celebrated by Pope Francis in Seoul later this month, a South Korean Church official said on Tuesday.

In a letter, the North's Korean Catholics Association (KCA) cited Seoul's refusal to cancel an upcoming joint military drill with US forces as the main reason for its decision.

Pope Francis is to conduct a special Korean reconciliation mass in Seoul on the last day of his August 14-18 visit to South Korea, and church officials in the South had sent several requests to Pyongyang to send a group of Catholics to attend.

But the day of the mass coincides with the launch of the annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian joint military drill, which the North had condemned as a rehearsal for nuclear war.

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