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Scheduled South Sudan Ecumenical Visit “will unite youth of our diocese”: Catholic Bishop

Bishop Christian Carlassare of South Sudan's Rumbek Diocese. Credit: Good News Radio (GNR)/Facebook

The ecumenical visit to South Sudan to be undertaken by Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, Jim Wallace in July will have an impact on young people in the country, a Catholic Bishop has said.

In an interview with Good News Radio (GNR) of the Catholic Diocese of Rumbek in South Sudan, Bishop Christian Carlassare shared about the preparations in the Diocese to participate in the ecumenical visit in the country’s capital, Juba. 

The July 5-7 ecumenical visit “will unite the youth of our Diocese and other people coming of course from different clans but belonging to this common family that journey toward meeting the Pope, this important person that represents us” Bishop Carlassare said in reference to the planned pilgrimage from Rumbek to Juba.

He explained during the Wednesday, May 25 interview, “As a Diocese, we are preparing a pilgrimage where pastoral agents will be able to travel from Rumbek to Juba to attend the celebration that will be there; there will be an ecumenical celebration.”

“We will gather here in Rumbek and from here we start accompanied by cars, off course on foot, day after day, in which every day there will be time for walking but also time for prayer and reflection,” the member of the Comboni Missionaries (MCCJ) who was consecrated Bishop on March 25 said.

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He added, “There will be a pilgrimage done by youth from the different parishes of our Diocese representative from each one of them.”

Archbishop Welby and Rev. Wallace are to join Pope Francis in the final leg of his two-African-nation pastoral trip that is to begin in the capital city of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Kinshasa, on July 2, and then to the city of Goma, the capital of North Kivu Province in Eastern DRC.

In a May 7 joint-statement, Pope Francis, Archbishop Welby, and Rev. Wallace described the planned July 5-7 trip to South Sudan as a “pilgrimage of peace” and urged South Sudanese leaders to foster the “way of forgiveness and freedom.”

In the May 25 interview with Good News Radio, Bishop Carlassare urged South Sudanese to be committed in seeking lasting peace for their country.

“This commitment for peace must be of all churches; and there will be a strong Catholic celebration in John Garang Memorial ground together with our Pope exactly to strengthen this desire,” the Italian-born Bishop who has ministered in South Sudan since 2005 said May 25.

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When realized, the July 2-7 pastoral trip to DRC and South Sudan will mark Pope Francis’ 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.

Earlier this month, Catholic Bishops in South Sudan agreed to spearhead campaigns aimed at making the people of God aware of the planned ecumenical visit in their respective Dioceses.

In April, Bishop Carlassare said the scheduled ecumenical trip is “a great encouragement” to the people of God in South Sudan.

“I think that the visit of the Pope will be a great encouragement to our Church, Bishops, Priests, Religious and also lay Christians to commit themselves strongly to evangelize,” Bishop Carlassare said during the April 9 interview with GNR that was shared with ACI Africa.

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Making reference to the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS), the Local Ordinary of South Sudan’s Rumbek Diocese said, “The peace that has been signed by our leaders, that desire of peace that is in everyone has to come down to all territories, to all people; that peace maybe not only in the upper rooms of our country, but maybe real down in every corner of our country, in all locations.”