Move forward, solve issues with goodwill -Pope to S.Sudan leaders

Pope Francis has reminded South Sudanese leaders to cultivate goodwill in order to achieve lasting peace, reconciliation, and unity in South Sudan.

The message was reasserted by his envoy, His Eminence Cardinal Pietro Parolin who is on an official Vatican visit to Juba.

In separate meetings on Tuesday with President Salva Kiir and First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar, the Vatican Secretary of State relayed the Pope’s message of reconciliation, peace and prosperity to strengthen South Sudan’s faltering peace process.

“We had a very pleasant conversation…in which we recalled his visit to the Vatican and the message the Holy Father delivered to him in that occasion,” Parolin said.

In April 2019, Pope Francis kissed the feet of President Kiir, Dr. Riek Machar, Rebecca Nyandeng, and Taban Deng during a two-day spiritual retreat at the Vatican.

“I am asking you as a brother to stay in peace. I am asking you with my heart, let us go forward,” the 83-year-old pontiff said after he performed the rare gesture.

Since the signing of the revitalized peace agreement in 2018, South Sudanese leaders have struggled to accomplish important tasks of setting the country on a democratic and development trajectory. Several provisions within the agreement have not been implemented with its lifespan coming to an end in the next 6 months.

Crucial reforms envisioned in the deal have not been realized. They include institutional reforms, enactment of permanent constitution, graduation of unified forces, funding of reparation and reconciliation bodies, among others.

“The Holy Father said there will always be difficulties, but we have to go forward and to solve them with goodwill to achieve unity, peace and reconciliation,” Cardinal Parolin stressed. “If there is no peace, there is no possibility of developing a country, there [will] always be a development of new conflict and new violence.”

Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin arrived in Juba yesterday on behalf of Pope Francis who postponed his Apostolic Journey to South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo “due to intense knee pain and at the insistence of his doctors.”

Cardinal Parolin announced that the Pope still has plans to come to South Sudan.

“The next visit of Pope which he hopes he is coming soon will just consolidate this message and this movement towards peace and development.”

The Vatican Secretary of State will carry out the visit in the Pope’s stead until July 8, 2022. He is expected to visit to Bentiu on July 7, and return to Juba – same day – for for a mass at Dr. John Garang Mausoleum.