Pope Francis sent a radio message of goodwill to China as his plane flew over the country’s airspace en route to South Korea.
He’s the first pope allowed to fly over China.
Meanwhile around 50 Chinese Catholics who wanted to travel to the Asian Youth Day festival in Seoul this week can not go because of what Heo Young-yeop, spokesman for the Committee for the Papal Vusit to Korea, described as “a complicated situation inside China.”
Beijing rejects The Vatican’s authority over its Catholics.
In Seoul, the pontiff delivered a message of peace and reconciliation for the divided Korean Peninsula.
“Korea’s quest for peace is a close to our hearts, for it affects the stability of the entire area in our whole war-weary world,” said the Pope Francis.
The pope will spend five days in South Korea during the week-long Asian youth festival, the coming together of Catholic youths from different Asian countries.
It’s the first trip by a pontiff to Asia since the late ’90s.
Just seven percent of South Korean people are Roman Catholic but that figure is growing fast.
The Catholic Church baptizes more Catholics in Asia every year than in traditionally Christian Europe.