Loading...
Loading...
Click here if you don’t see subscription options
Pope Francis shakes hands with South Sudanese President Salva Kiir during a private audience at the Vatican March 16, 2019.

Pope Francis, Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury and the Rev. Jim Wallace, moderator of the Church of Scotland, marked the 10th anniversary of South Sudan’s independence and again promised to visit the country when it has a stable peace.

But to get to that point, the Christian leaders told South Sudanese politicians, “This may require personal sacrifice from you as leaders -- Christ’s own example of leadership shows this powerfully.”

South Sudan was celebrating its 10th Independence Day July 9, but for the last eight years has been embroiled in a civil war. Nearly 400,000 people have been killed since December 2013 and about 4 million people have been displaced.

South Sudan was celebrating its 10th Independence Day July 9, but for the last eight years has been embroiled in a civil war.

The civil war began in 2013 after President Salva Kiir dismissed Riek Machar, the first vice president, and their supporters began fighting one another. Since February 2020, Machar has returned to office, and the two are attempting to rule together.

The pope and the Anglican and Presbyterian leaders told the politicians, “We wish you to know that we stand alongside you as you look to the future and seek to discern afresh how best to serve all the people of South Sudan.”

As they did in a similar message to the politicians at Christmas, the religious leaders remembered “with joy and thanksgiving” the April 2019 retreat, prayer and discussions the politicians had at the Vatican with Pope Francis and Archbishop Welby.

“Weighty promises” were made on the occasion, they said. “We pray that those promises will shape your actions, so that it will become possible for us to visit and celebrate with you and your people in person, honoring your contributions to a nation that fulfils the hopes” South Sudanese had at independence.

“Your nation is blessed with immense potential, and we encourage you to make even greater efforts to enable your people to enjoy the full fruits of independence,” they said.

“Your nation is blessed with immense potential, and we encourage you to make even greater efforts to enable your people to enjoy the full fruits of independence,” they said.

“When we last wrote to you at Christmas, we prayed that you might experience greater trust among yourselves and be more generous in service to your people,” the letter continued. “Since then, we have been glad to see some small progress.”

But, the religious leaders wrote, “sadly, your people continue to live in fear and uncertainty and lack confidence that their nation can indeed deliver the ‘justice, liberty and prosperity’ celebrated in your national anthem. Much more needs to be done in South Sudan to shape a nation that reflects God’s kingdom, in which the dignity of all is respected and all are reconciled.”

Caritas Internationalis, the Vatican-based umbrella organization for national Catholic charities, acknowledged the many and deep problems South Sudan faces as it tries to consolidate peace, promote reconciliation, feed the poor and promote development.

“To survive this young state will need international aid to build the nation through micro development programs in the rural areas where the land is still fertile. Without education, there will not be long lasting peace, and the country needs massive support to ensure aid for the integral health programs,” Aloysius John, secretary-general of Caritas Internationalis, said in a statement July 9.

Gabriel Yai, director of Caritas South Sudan, said that with the signing of a peace treaty in 2018, the promise that members of the various armed factions would be trained to form a single national army and with the swearing in of members of parliament, the nation finally has a chance.

“This is the golden opportunity for the international community to help in nation building,” Yai said in a statement distributed by Caritas Internationalis July 9. “Our country is more than ever in need of international political support to consolidate the political emancipation of leaders and to build a state army that will protect the people.”

We don’t have comments turned on everywhere anymore. We have recently relaunched the commenting experience at America and are aiming for a more focused commenting experience with better moderation by opening comments on a select number of articles each day.

But we still want your feedback. You can join the conversation about this article with us in social media on Twitter or Facebook, or in one of our Facebook discussion groups for various topics.

Or send us feedback on this article with one of the options below:

We welcome and read all letters to the editor but, due to the volume received, cannot guarantee a response.

In order to be considered for publication, letters should be brief (around 200 words or less) and include the author’s name and geographic location. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

We open comments only on select articles so that we can provide a focused and well-moderated discussion on interesting topics. If you think this article provides the opportunity for such a discussion, please let us know what you'd like to talk about, or what interesting question you think readers might want to respond to.

If we decide to open comments on this article, we will email you to let you know.

If you have a message for the author, we will do our best to pass it along. Note that if the article is from a wire service such as Catholic News Service, Religion News Service, or the Associated Press, we will not have direct contact information for the author. We cannot guarantee a response from any author.

We welcome any information that will help us improve the factual accuracy of this piece. Thank you.

Please consult our Contact Us page for other options to reach us.

City and state/province, or if outside Canada or the U.S., city and country. 
When you click submit, this article page will reload. You should see a message at the top of the reloaded page confirming that your feedback has been received.

The latest from america

Pope Francis meets the journalists during an airborne press conference aboard the airplane directed to Rome, at the end of his pastoral visit to Congo and South Sudan, Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023. (Tiziana Fabi/Pool Photo Via AP)
Pope Francis hit out strongly against the way people have sought to manipulate Benedict’s death. “People who instrumentalize such a good person, [a man] of God, almost I would say a holy father of the church, have no ethics,” he said. “They are of a party, not of the church.”
Gerard O’ConnellFebruary 05, 2023
A woman raises a cross as people wait for the start of an ecumenical prayer service attended by Pope Francis at the John Garang Mausoleum in Juba, South Sudan, Feb. 4, 2023. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Pope Francis repeated his pressing call for an end to the violence that has forced millions into camps for refugees or the internally displaced in South Sudan.
Gerard O’ConnellFebruary 04, 2023
Memorial of Saint Paul Miki and Companions, Martyrs, by Jill Rice
Jill RiceFebruary 03, 2023
A Reflection for Saturday of the Fourth Week of Ordinary Time, by J.D. Long-García
J.D. Long-GarcíaFebruary 03, 2023