(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met with the bishops of Sudan and South Sudan on Wednesday, shortly before his weekly general audience. The bishops are in Rome for a meeting organized by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
During the encounter, the bishops invited the Holy Father to visit South Sudan.
“He said: I am ready. I want to. I want to. I want to. But we have to leave everything in the hands of the Lord,” said Archbishop Paulino Lukudu Loro, of the Archdiocese of Juba.
Archbishop Loro told Vatican Radio’s 105Live the “issue of peace” is still a priority in both countries, especially South Sudan, “because we are at war.”
South Sudan achieved independence from Sudan in 2011, after decades of a civil war which killed over two million people.
Despite initial hopes of a peaceful future after independence was achieved, a civil conflict broke out in 2013 between factions in South Sudan. The new civil war has killed thousands of people and displaced over one million others.
“Without peace, religion has difficulties,” Archbishop Loro said.
He added the Church must also address the issue of vacant dioceses, as well as providing support for the local clergy.
“We must discuss with our superiors in the Congregation [for the Evangelization of People] about how to proceed and accomplish our goals,” the Archbishop said. “There are many questions from us on how to proceed.”
The Catholic Church in South Sudan has one archdiocese, and six suffragan dioceses. The bishops are members of the Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference, which includes the bishops from Sudan.
Catholics make up over a third of the population in South Sudan. In Sudan, Catholics make up just over 3% of the population, while the vast majority of the people are Muslims.