Missionary Priest in South Sudan Lauds “ecumenical approach” of Planned Papal Trip

Credit: Solidarity with South Sudan (SSS)

A Catholic Missionary Priest serving in South Sudan has lauded the “ecumenical approach” of the planned pastoral trip of Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, Jim Wallace to the East-Central African nation.

In a Thursday, May 19 interview with ACI Africa, Fr. Jim Greene who is the Executive Director of Solidarity with South Sudan (SSS) said the coming of Pope Francis to South Sudan is “a huge occasion” for the people of God in the country. 

“It’s a huge occasion for the rejoicing of Bishops, Priests, and Laity. The ecumenical approach makes South Sudan’s Christian witness, desire, and mandate for peace stronger,” the Executive Director of SSS, an initiative of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG) and the Union of Superiors General (USG) that was established in response to a request from the members of the Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC), said.

The member of the Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers) added, “This ecumenical visit makes it unique even in terms of Africa, which the Holy Father has called a pilgrimage of peace. It promotes peace and reconciliation because it involves the three top religious leaders.”

In a May 7 joint statement, Pope Francis, Archbishop Welby, and Rt. Rev. Wallace described the planned ecumenical trip to South Sudan as a “pilgrimage of peace.”


The three church leaders urged South Sudanese leaders to follow the “way of forgiveness and freedom … in order to discern new avenues amid the challenges and struggles at this time.”

In the May 19 interview with ACI Africa, Fr. Greene said the ecumenical visit “is a unique blessing and occasion for the Church in South Sudan.”

“We should be praying more and be more sensitive to the needs of peace and reconciliation in the country. To see how we can cooperate with the intention of the Holy Father which is to sow seeds of peace and hope,” he added.

Fr. Greene further said, “I ask people to pray for the success of his visit and also pray for the success of peace and reconciliation in their own lives. That is the first thing that everyone can participate in.”

“We hope that as many people as possible will be able to come to visit and see the Holy Father and participate in the Eucharist and various occasions around it,” he told ACI Africa.

More in Africa

The Executive Director of SSS said his entity is “happy to cooperate” with the different committees established to plan for the ecumenical visit.

He said, “As a united approach in the Catholic Church to prepare for the visit, we in solidarity are very happy to cooperate with the initiative, commissions and the committees that are being set up.”

“Our members have been involved in different commissions and committees,” Fr. Greene told ACI Africa during the May 19 interview.

Early this month, the Social Communication Coordinator of SCBC said that Catholic Bishops in South Sudan have agreed to spearhead campaigns aimed at making the people of God aware of the planned ecumenical visit in their respective Dioceses. 

If undertaken, the planned July 2-7 pastoral trip that is to begin in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will mark the Pope’s third visit to sub-Saharan Africa.


The journey will be the first-ever Papal visit to South Sudan and the third Papal trip to DRC, which is home to Africa's largest Catholic population.

Patrick Juma Wani is a South Sudanese journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. Patrick holds a Diploma in Journalism and Mass Communication from Makerere Institute for Social Development (MISD) in Uganda. He has over 7 years of extensive experience in leading the development and implementation of media, advocacy, communication and multimedia strategy and operations, with an excellent track record of editorial leadership, budget management, and stakeholder outreach. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.