Speed Reads

Cold welcomes

North Korea welcomes Pope Francis with a volley of short-range rockets

Less than an hour before Pope Francis landed in Seoul, South Korea, for the first papal visit there in 25 years, North Korea fired three short-range projectiles — missiles or artillery shells — into the Sea of Japan. The Archdiocese of Seoul had invited North Korea to send a delegation to meet the pope, but Pyongyang declined. On the pope's agenda is a "reconciliation" mass to pray for peace and unity on the Korean peninsula.

After landing, and before being shuttled off to Seoul in a Kia Soul hatchback, Pope Francis greeted President Park Geun-hye, relatives of people who died in April's Sewol ferry disaster, and the descendants of two Korean martyrs.

As he was flying over Chinese airspace on the way to the South Korea, Francis sent a telegram to Chinese President Xi Jinping, offering greetings and prayers. The telegram wasn't unusual — Vatican protocol dictates that the pope send a telegram to whichever head of state his aircraft is flying through — but the recipient was: China and the Vatican have tense relations, and when Pope John Paul II asked permission to fly over China on his way to Korea in 1989, Beijing said no.