SOUTH SUDAN: Pope Francis’ Appointment of First Nuncio to South Sudan Demonstrates Commitment and Attention to Country, Vatican Diplomat Affirms

By Paschal Norbert

JUBA, JUNE 28, 2024 (CISA)Msgr Ionut Paul Streajac, Charge d’Affaires of the Apostolic Nunciature in South Sudan has emphasized that the appointment of the first resident Apostolic Nuncio signifies Pope Francis’ dedication and support for South Sudan, as well as the advancement of the local Church.

“On the 14th of May, the Holy Father appointed the first resident Apostolic Nuncio to South Sudan. This is a historic step in the history of the country and on the bilateral level of diplomatic relations as well- having a resident Ambassador in Juba,” stated Msgr Ionut, adding “The appointment of the new nuncio resident here is a sign of attention from the Holy Father and the Apostolic See and at the same time a show of commitment with South Sudan, which expresses the closeness of the Holy Father.”

Speaking during the opening ceremony of the meeting of the Catholic bishops in the Ecclesiastical Province of South Sudan on June 27, Msgr Ionut indicated that the hierarchy of the Church in South Sudan had requested the Holy Father to appoint a resident nuncio and with the appointment of Msgr Séamus Patrick Horgan, the First Counselor at the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington DC, the pope had listened to the local Church.

In his address, Msgr Ionut outlined the preparations for the new nuncio’s arrival and Archbishop Bert van Megen’s transition from serving as nuncio to both Kenya and South Sudan to focusing solely on his role as the papal representative in Kenya.

“Msgr Séamus Patrick Horgan is in Washington DC where he has worked for the last years at our nunciature. He will be leaving at the beginning of the month to Rome and then he will be ordained a bishop on July 27 in Ireland. On the 16th of August in the morning hours, he will reach Juba. So we are waiting for his coming,” said the Charge d’Affaires.

He explained, “Meanwhile, Msgr van Megen will be coming at the beginning of August between August 3 to 6 or 7, to greet the ecclesiastical and civil authorities at the end of his mission.”

Once he assumes office, Irish-born Msgr Horgan will be the first resident nuncio in South Sudan and will take over from Archbishop Hubertus van Megen, who has been serving as both the nuncio to Kenya and South Sudan since 2019.

Diplomatic relations between the Vatican and South Sudan started in earnest in 2013, two years after the country gained independence in 2011. That same year on December 21, Archbishop Charles Daniel Balvo was appointed the first apostolic nuncio to South Sudan but with residence in Kenya since he was serving in both postings.

In 2018, the nunciature in South Sudan was established and Msgr Mark Kadima, now bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Bungoma, Kenya, was appointed the First Counselor (Chargé d’Affaires) of the nunciature in South Sudan. Since Kadima was appointed bishop in 2022, Msgr Ionut Paul has been serving as the Charge d’Affaires of the Apostolic Nunciature of the Vatican in Juba.