Pope Francis to visit South Sudan in July
Pope Francis will visit South Sudan on July 5th, according to the Vatican Embassy in Juba.
The Chargé d’affaires of the Vatican Embassy in South Sudan made the news this afternoon.
The Pope’s trip to Juba has been repeatedly postponed due to security concerns. He has planned to visit Juba in 2015 and 2017.
South Sudan seceded from Sudan in July 2011, but a civil war ensued two years later, killing around 400,000 people. In 2018, the opposing factions signed a peace treaty.
The Pope welcomed President Salva Kiir and his entourage to the Vatican in Rome in March 2019, where he encouraged them to cease the bloodshed.
From July 2 to 5, Pope Francis will also visit Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Goma, the restive eastern province of North Kivu.
The announcement of the DRC visit was made on Thursday by both the Prime Minister and the Catholic Church in Kinshasa.
The pope “will offer a message of reconciliation and encouragement,” according to Prime Minister Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde.
According to him, the visit “follows an official invitation” from the Congolese administration.
“Pope Francis will make a historic visit to our nation 37 years after Pope John Paul II… This historic news is welcomed by our administration. We must all prepare to greet this famous visitor. “It will be a tremendous time of unity,” said government spokesperson Patrick Muyaya. “Karibu kwetu François” (welcome hither, Francis), he added in Swahili.
According to Monsignor Marcel Utembi, head of Congo’s National Episcopal Conference, the Pope’s visit would “revive the hope of the Congolese people who need peace, security, and well-being” (Cenco).
The Congolese Catholic Church has called for a mobilization to greet the Holy Father. The visit is “an great gift to the DRC and the Congolese people who are going through tough circumstances today,” according to Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo. “A spiritual preparation for this encounter of mercy and blessing,” he said.
The latest papal visit to Kinshasa was by John Paul II in August 1985, for two days.
“Since John Paul II’s visit, so much has transpired.” There have been conflicts, and the nation has had many ups and downs, so the DRC that Pope Francis will know is significantly different from the DRC that John Paul II knew,” Utembi said.
Since his election in 2013, Francis has made four trips to Africa. In 2015, he traveled to Kenya, Uganda, and the Central African Republic.
He visited Egypt in 2017, Morocco in 2019, and Mozambique, Madagascar, and Mauritius later that year.
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