North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un may receive a surprising phone call from Pope Francis
The Vatican City is desperately attempting to open a dialogue between Pyongyang and the Holy See in order to avoid a nuclear war.
The Pope wants to speak to despot Kim directly, a high-ranking cardinal has revealed, in what would be a historic and unexpected intervention.
Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, head of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, admitted he was not sure how this could happen but said dialogue was a priority.
The Vatican City has urged Donald Trump to seek dialogue with North Korea
We are exploring the possibilities of speaking to them directly
The wheels were already in motion for an unlikely phone call between Pope Francis and Kim, he said.
Cardinal Turkson said: “The dicastery is already in communication with the Korean episcopal conference to see how we may have contact also with the regime on the other side.
“We are exploring the possibilities of speaking to them directly. We cannot say right now exactly when this contact will happen.”
The Vatican does not have diplomatic relations with North Korea, which is top of the list of states in which Christians are persecuted.
Cardinal Turkson had previously urged US leader Donald Trump to end his sabre-rattling and to push for dialogue with Kim instead.
He said last week dialogue was necessary for the “common good” – although he did not explicitly reference North Korea.
Speaking to an audience of UN and NATO officials last Friday, Cardinal Turkson said: “Growing inter-dependence means that any response to the threat of nuclear weapons should be collective and consultative, based on mutual trust.
“This trust can be built only through dialogue that is truly directed to the common good and not to the protection of veiled or particular interests.
Christians are persecuted in North Korea more than in any other country
“Such dialogue, as far as possible, should include all. Avoiding conflicts and building bridges – this should be the principle aim of an efficacious, collective and consultative response.”
Despite not mentioning North Korea during his address, he left little to the imagination – even giving Mr Trump a little extra nudge in case he missed the clues.
A pastor at a ‘show church’ in North Korea, intended to convince foreigners of religious tolerance
Mr Turkson said: “These are complex and uncertain times.
“By the way, when we planned this conference, we did not know that President Trump would be in the Far East. It just happens to be a happy coincidence.
“I guess it has to do with divine providence.”
READ MORE: North Korea facts
North Korea is home to up to 500,000 Christians who are forced to worship in secret due to a bloody crackdown. In the hermit state, only the Kim dynasty leaders are allowed to be worshipped.
Open Doors, an international Christian watchdog, places North Korea at the top of the list in terms of persecution.
As many as half of all believers in the state are believed to be in prison or labour camps.