By Paschal Norbert
LONDON, JANUARY 31, 2023 (CISA)– “Our visit is a Pilgrimage of Peace. We come as servants – to listen to and amplify the cries of the South Sudanese people, who have suffered so much and continue to suffer because of conflict, devasting flooding, widespread famine and much more,” said Archbishop Justin Welby in a January 29, 2023, press statement.
The Archbishop of Canterbury will be visiting the Republic of South Sudan with Pope Francis, and Rt Rev Dr Iain Greenshields, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland from February 3 to 5, 2023.
“This will be a historic visit. After centuries of division, leaders of three different parts of the Church are coming together in an unprecedented way, and in so doing are seeking to be part of answering another prayer – Jesus’ prayer – that his followers might be one – “ut unum sint” (John: 17). We come as followers of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, knowing that his Holy Spirit is at work in South Sudan and has the power to transform hearts. His love and welcome are on offer to all. It is through him that we find our deepest peace and our most profound hopes for justice. And so, I ask you to pray with us for the people of South Sudan,” the head of the Church of England said.
The archbishop also stated that he hopes their visit to the African nation will reawaken the conscience of the people and leaders to choose the path of peace as he reflected on the 2019 ‘ecumenical and diplomatic’ peace meeting at the Vatican that brought together President Salva Kiir, Vice President Riek Machar, other vice presidents, and members of the South Sudan Council of Churches; and Catholic bishops and Presbyterian Church leaders.
“Over the past three years and even since July, violence has intensified in many parts of the country. We hope to review and renew the commitments made by South Sudanese leadership at the Vatican in 2019, and the commitments they have made to their people since then,” outlined the spiritual leader of the worldwide Anglican communion.
“We come as brothers in Christ to worship together and witness to the God who reconciles us. The communities of South Sudan have a legacy of powerful witness to their faith. Through working together, they have been a sign and instrument of the reconciliation God desires for their whole country and all of creation. We hope to build on and reenergize that legacy,” he stressed.
The much-awaited Ecumenical Pilgrimage of Peace of Pope Francis is part of the pontiff’s Apostolic Journey to the DRC and South Sudan, which begins on Tuesday, January 31, 2022.
Meanwhile, preparations in South Sudan are in high gear to receive the Church leaders. On January 30, 2023, President Salva Kiir Mayardit met with the bishops and clerics from five Christian denominations out of the seven denominations under the South Sudan Council of Churches.
The team was led by his Eminence Cardinal Gabriel Zubeir Wako, Emeritus of the Catholic Archdiocese of Khartoum and Bishop Paride Taban, Emeritus of the Catholic Diocese of Torit.
According to information provided by President Kiir’s office, Cardinal Zubeir Wako called on Christians across the country to continue spreading the message of peace, love and unity in the communities.