By Spy Uganda Correspondent
Pope Francis concluded the Africa tour after his visit to South Sudan. The head of the Catholic Church’s visit to the country was the first since it gained independence in 2011 after it broke away from Muslim-majority Sudan.
The Mass in Juba, attended by approximately 100,000 people, was the last point of his visit to Africa, during which the Pope promoted forgiveness for past wrongs, reconciliation, and peace.
Before his departure, the pope had a short farewell address and thanked the people of South Sudan for the affection they showed him.
The Holy Father then emphasized another word “that has echoed in these days […] and in days yet to come: Peace.”
The Pope went on to say that he, along with Archbishop Justin Welby and Dr Iain Greenshields who had made the ecumenical journey with him, would continue to accompany the people of South Sudan, and do all they can to assist in the journey toward lasting peace.
“I would like to entrust the path of reconciliation and peace to another woman,” he said, “the greatest and at the same time the least, the most exalted and yet the one closest to each one of us”: the Blessed Virgin Mary.
“We pray to her now,” he continued, “and we entrust to her the cause of peace in South Sudan and in the entire African continent, where so many of our brothers and sisters in the faith experience persecution and danger, where great numbers of people suffer from conflict exploitation, exploitation, and poverty.” And recalling especially the war in Ukraine, the Pope also entrusted to Mary the cause of peace throughout the world.
Assuring the people of South Sudan that they were even closer to his heart as he returned to Rome, Pope Francis concluded his message with a word of encouragement: Never lose hope! And lose no opportunity to build peace.”
Despite a 2018 peace deal between the two main antagonists, bouts of fighting have continued to kill and displace large numbers of civilians.