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The television version of Hilary Mantel’s novel Wolf Hall is the latest account to challenge St Thomas More’s reputation as a courageous defender of the rights of conscience. Was he, in truth, a liberal icon, a religious fanatic or something in between?
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Taizé’s Prior, Brother Alois, and several other brothers visited North Korea, as part of a programme of visits to Myanmar, China, India and North and South Korea during October and November. The latest Taizé community newsletter talks about the group visiting all four churches in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, and praying in silence.
“In the only Catholic church at Pyongyang, we were received by a lay person in charge (there was no priest there); in one of the two Protestant churches by one of the pastors; and in the Russian Orthodox church by one of the two priests,” said the brothers.
Brother Alois' delegation spent five days in N Korea at the invitation of the Red Cross.
“The Taizé community doesn’t want to be passive in the face of isolation,” he told The Tablet.
Brother Alois was received by Pope Francis at the Vatican on 28 November.
The Christian charity Open Doors rates N Korea as the worst country for the persecution of Christians in the world. Pyongyang sees the faith as Western and a threat. Christians were thought to have been among the 80 people whom officials publicly executed last month for offences that, according to a South Korean newspaper, the Joongang Daily, included “the possession of Bibles”.