ZAMBIA: AMECEA Chairman Welcomes Pope’s Probable Visit to South Sudan, Requests Visit to Eritrea

LUSAKA, NOVEMBER 22, 2019 (CISA)- Bishop Charles Kasonde, the Chairman of Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA) and Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Solwezi has welcomed news of the probable visit by Pope Francis to South Sudan in 2020 and requested him to include Eritrea.

“We are grateful to God to have the Vicar of Christ who accompanies his flock until taken to the higher ground for safety… My humble request to His Holiness Pope Francis, if it is fitting for me as Chairman of AMECEA, is that he extends his visit and step his feet on the soil of Eritrea as well, to pray with our brothers and sisters there who are also undergoing difficult times,” Bishop Kasonde said in an interview with AMECEA Online News on November 14.

“A special thought goes to the dear people of South Sudan, which I must visit this [next] year (2020) … The South Sudanese people have suffered too much in the last years and they wait with great hope for a better future, especially the definitive end of the conflicts and lasting peace. Therefore, I exhort the leaders to continue, without tiring, the commitment in favor of inclusive dialogue in the search for consensus for the good of the Nation,” the Pontiff said November 10 during the angelus at the St Peter’s Square at the Vatican.

Eritrea, a member of AMECEA has in the recent years experienced a political standoff with Ethiopia when a border dispute flared into an all-out war that led to deaths and displacement of thousands of citizens. The Catholic Church in Eritrea decried harassment by the government when it forcefully took over church institutions including health care facilities earlier this year.

“We continue praying for the realization of this important visit on our soil by our Shepherd,” Bishop Kasonde remarked.