Pope Francis reiterated his desire to visit the East-Central African nation in April 2019, during the spiritual retreat that brought together the South Sudanese President Salva Kiir Mayardit, the opposition leader, Dr. Riek Machar, and the widow of South Sudanese leader John Garang, Rebecca Nyandeng De Mabior, among other political and religious leaders from South Sudan.
In February, Archbishop Justin Welby confirmed the joint visit to South Sudan “in the next few months.”
“God willing, sometime in the next few months, perhaps a year, we will go and see them in Juba, not in Rome, and see what progress can be made,” Archbishop Welby was quoted as saying in the February 7 report.
In the May 5 interview with ACI Africa, Fr. Gbemboyo appealed for material, spiritual and financial support from South Sudanese ahead of the planned ecumenical visit.
“We call on people within the city, our business community, MPs, ministers, people with ability to contribute; let them contribute to the Church,” he said, adding that “in the parishes around here in Juba, let people come and support because the parishes under the Archdiocese will be hosting delegates from the States and other Dioceses.”
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He also appealed for spiritual solidarity ahead of the planned ecumenical trip. He said, “We have to start praying now for the visit of these great leaders.”
“Let us come in good numbers beginning first with prayers for them, prayers for peace in our country,” the SCBC Communications Coordinator said.
Last month, the Archbishop of Juba said the Church is satisfied with the government’s preparations to welcome Pope Francis in his planned ecumenical visit to South Sudan.
“The Church is satisfied with the level of government preparations to welcome His Holiness Pope Francis together with the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, and the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church Rev Martin Fair,” Archbishop Stephen Ameyu Martin was quoted as saying in a Facebook post.
In the May 5 interview with ACI Africa, Fr. Gbemboyo appealed for working together saying, “We need to collaborate together to support this visit. Let us give a hand; let us support this; let us even support financially or materially.”
The South Sudanese Priest added, “Let us support the committees, which will be leading these activities on our behalf. Above all let us put God first because where there is God there is peace. Let us pray for peace as the Holy Father is coming to South Sudan.”