Holy See–South Korea relations

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Holy See–South Korea relations
Map indicating locations of Holy See and South Korea

Holy See

South Korea

Holy See–South Korea relations refers to the relations between the Holy See and the South Korea. The Catholic Church in South Korea is the fastest growing Church in East Asia. According to the Statistics, as of December 31, 2017, the number of Catholics in Korea was 5,813,770. It amounted to 11.0% of the total population of South Korea (52 million population). The total number of Catholics in Korea has slightly and consistently increased since 1950s.[1]


Historical ties between the Vatican and South Korea can be traced back to 1946 when 1947 when Bishop Patrick Byrne served as an Apostolic Visitor to Korea from 1947 onward. The South Korean government sent a delegation to the Paris conference in 1948 to be recognized as the only government of the Korean peninsula. At that time the Holy See and the Apostolic Nuncio in Paris (then Angelo Roncalli, later Pope John XXIII) greatly helped the South Korean delegation to obtain recognition from many delegations of Catholic countries.[2]

State visits[edit]

Pope Francis in South Korea

In 1984, Pope John Paul II visited South Korea for the first time to attend a ceremony commemorating 200th anniversary of Korean Catholicism. The pontiff made a second papal visit in 1989 to attend the 44th Eucharistic Congress.[2] Pope Francis also made a papal visit to South Korea in 2014 for the beatification of the 124 Korean martyrs and for the sixth Asian Youth Day.[3]

Then Korean President, Kim Dae-jung visited the Vatican in 2000, becoming the first Korean head of state to do so. Presidents Roh Moo-hyun, Lee Myung-bak, Park Geun-hye and Moon Jae-in also made their visits to the city-state.[2]

Apostolic nuncios to Korea[edit]

Incumbent[4] Start of Term End of Term
Apostolic Delegates.
Patrick James Byrne 1947 1950
Max de Furstenberg 1950 1950
Egano Righi Lambertini 1957 1960
Xavier Zupi 1960 1962
Antonio del Giudice 1962 1963
Apostolic Internuncio.
Antonio del Giudice 1963 1966
Apostolic Nuncios.
Antonio del Giudice 1966 1967
Hippolito Rotoli 1967 1972
Luigi Dossena 1973 1978
Luciano Angeloni 1978 1982
Francesco Monterisi 1982 1987
Ivan Dias 1987 1991
Giovanni Bulaitis 1991 1997
Giovanni Battista Morandini 1997 2004
Emil Paul Tscherrig 2004 2008
Osvaldo Padilla 2008 2017
Alfred Xuereb 2018 present

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Pettinelli, Derek (1 September 2018). "Catholicism Flourishing In South Korea". Catholic Digest. Retrieved 18 February 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Yoon, Sojung (13 August 2014). "Historical records of Korea, Vatican ties go online". Korea.net. Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  3. ^ "Pope Francis Arrives in South Korea on First Trip to Asia as Pontiff". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 14 August 2014.
  4. ^ Nunciature to Korea. Catholic Hierarchy. Retrieved 9 December 2018.