The Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Tombura-Yambio and President of the Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC), Barani Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala has blamed the continued armed conflict in South Sudan as the main reason that led Pope Francis to postpone his planned Apostolic Journey to the country. Pope Francis had intended to visit the country in the company of Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, this year.
“Pope Francis for a very long time now has been so much concerned about South Sudan and its people. On several occasions in his traditional prayers of the Angelus and weekly Audience, has prayed and called on the world to come to the aid of South Sudan,“ Bishop Kussala said. According to the Bishop, the ongoing insecurity and other challenges in the nation led to the postponement of the visit.
“All we need to do now is embark on a very serious spiritual self-discernment ... peace-building in order to create a conducive atmosphere for the possibility of the visitation of the Holy Father in due course,” Bishop Kussala encouraged his compatriots. He made these remarks in a media statement Tuesday.
In February, Pope Francis announced that his staff were “studying the possibility” of a visit to South Sudan. Towards the end of last month, the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Greg Burke told media that Pope Francis had postponed the trip. According to Burke while ”the trip is still being considered it is “not for this year.”
In the media statement, Bishop Kussala emphasised Pope Francis’ concern for peace in the world.
“Pope Francis continues to remind us of the cost of war, particularly on the powerless and defenceless, and urges us towards the imperative of peace,” Bishop Kussala said. He further challenged the people of South Sudan to themselves embrace peace.
“We, as the SCBC urge all our faithful and the entire people within the country to strive and promote peace (each one) in his or her own capacity! Be that agent of change needed in South Sudan! Pray a lot more in sincere repentance of heart with the aim of consolidating peace in the country. It is only such activities that can bring the Holy Father to South Sudan in a no distant period,” the President of the Bishops’ Conference underlined.
South Sudan Bishops would continue to look forward to a day Pope Francis would visit the country.
“Our great desire, hope and expectation as the Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference for the Sudan and South Sudan is that, the visit of the Holy Father hasn’t been put off completely, but the pastoral visit will be reconsidered and that South Sudan as a new nation will be graced by His Holiness - Pope Francis,” Bishop Kussala said.