Wednesday, August 16, 2023
The Vatican Secretary of State, cardinal Pietro Parolin, who arrived in South Sudan on August 14, has urged the people of God in the South central African country to continue working towards building a united and peaceful nation by embracing the spirit of peace and reconciliation. [In the picture: Cardinal Pietro Parolin with President Salva Kiir Mayardit in Juba. Credit: Office of the President of South Sudan. ACI Africa]
Speaking to the media after his meeting with President Salva Kiir Mayardit on Monday, August 14, cardinal Pietro Parolin underscored the importance of peace and reconciliation in building a stable country. “Embrace the spirit of peace and reconciliation in order to build a harmonious society in the country,” the Vatican Secretary of State who is in the East-Central African nation for a four-day official visit said in his address in Juba.
He urged South Sudanese leaders to fully implement the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South (R-ARCSS) signed in 2018 for realization of durable peace in the country. Cardinal Parolin left Juba on Tuesday, August 15 and headed to the Catholic Diocese of Malakal where he had been invited by Bishop Stephen Nyodho to meet the refugees coming from war-torn Sudan.
Thousands of returnees and refugees displaced by the ongoing war between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) are currently hosted in Malakal Diocese which serves South Sudan’s Upper Nile State. The number of those in dire need of humanitarian assistance continues to rise daily.
The Vatican Secretary of State will end his four-day visit to South Sudan at the Catholic Diocese of Rumbek on August 17 where he will preside over Mass, and later meet with Church leaders and some more government officials. In an interview with ACI Africa on August 13 interview with ACI Africa ahead of the Cardinal’s visit, Archbishop Hubertus van Megen, the Apostolic Nuncio to South Sudan and Kenya reiterated the message of Pope Francis to South Sudanese leaders saying, “The message of the Holy Father remains the same. It is the message of reconciliation as indicated in the moto for his visit that ‘I pray that all may be one’.”
The Nuncio recalled that the Holy Father’s visit to South Sudan brought people of diverse backgrounds together, and that the Holy Father’s intention was that all South Sudanese “truly become one nation of South Sudan”. “In order to achieve the unity of the South Sudanese, the people need to first reconcile with one another,” he added. Archbishop van Megen, who started his ministry as Apostolic Nuncio to South Sudan and Kenya in 2019 urged the people of God in the country to look at themselves as brothers, and not as members of the many ethnic groups in the country.
[Kerbino Kuel Deng – ACI Africa]