VATICAN: Cardinal Michael Czerny Undertakes Pastoral Trip to South Sudan to Mark First Anniversary of Papal Visit

By Paschal Norbert

JUBA, FEBRUARY 2,2024 (CISA)- The Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development (DPIHD), Cardinal Michael Czerny SJ, will make a pastoral trip to the Republic of South Sudan from February 2 to 9, 2024, to mark one year after Pope Francis visited the country in 2023.

A report by Vatican Media indicates that the Jesuit Cardinal will visit the country’s capital Juba and the towns of Malakal and Renk, the latter being the transit town for people fleeing the deadly conflict in Sudan into South Sudan.

In the calendar of activities, the prefect of DPIHD who recently was on a trip to Benin will celebrate Mass at St. Theresa Cathedral Juba on Sunday, February 4, and another Mass in Malakal at St. Josephine Bakhita Catholic Church on February 8, the 10th annual World Day of Prayer and Reflection against Human Trafficking, whose theme is “Journeying in Dignity. Listen. Dream. Act”.

The Holy Father established the World Day of Prayer and Reflection against Human Trafficking on the Feast Day of St. Josephine Bakhita in 2015, in honour of the Sudanese Canossian sister described as an “‘African flower’, who knew the anguish of kidnapping and slavery.”

Cardinal Czerny’s visit to Renk is significant as it is on the border between South Sudan and Sudan. According to media reports, nearly 60,000 of the more than 100,000 refugees from Sudan have passed through Renk. Generally, a dry town with a rough terrain, Renk is in crisis because of the influx of refugees as its transit centre was originally designed to accommodate only 2000 people.

In Renk, Cardinal Czerny who is passionate and an advocate for the respect of the rights and human dignity of migrants, will bless a boat that the local Caritas organization will use to transport the migrants and refugees along the River Nile from Renk to Malakal.

In February 2023, Pope Francis ended his trip to South Sudan with an impassionate appeal for peace and forgiveness in the war-torn country that has been ravaged by conflict since independence in 2011.

“Dear brothers and sisters, I return to Rome with you even closer to my heart,” he said. “Never lose hope. And lose no opportunity to build peace. May hope and peace dwell among you. May hope and peace dwell in South Sudan,” he said.

His visit christened an ‘ecumenical peace pilgrimage’, marked the first time in “Christian history that leaders of the Catholic, Anglican and Reformed traditions conducted a joint foreign trip, with the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, leader of the global Anglican Communion, and Iain Greenshields, moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, joining Francis on the journey.”