The 66-year-old Cardinal expressed his awareness of the challenges in realizing reconciliation and lasting peace in South Sudan, saying, “There will always be difficulties but we have to move forward to solve them in goodwill to achieve that unity, peace, and reconciliation.”
He went on to thank President Kiir for a warm reception, saying, “We are very grateful to the President of South Sudan for receiving me with the delegation of the Holy See which is made up of the representatives of the local Church, the President of the Episcopal Conference, and the Archbishop of Juba.”
“We had a pleasant conversation with the President of the Republic in which we recalled his visit to the Vatican and the message the Holy Father delivered to him on that occasion,” Cardinal Parolin told journalists in Juba July 5.
Also addressing journalists after the meeting, the South Sudanese Minister for Presidential Affairs, Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin said the Vatican Secretary of State delivered the Holy Father’s message on peace and reconciliation and reconfirmed the Pope’s intention to realize the postponed ecumenical visit.
“His Eminence the Secretary of State was able to bring the message of His Holiness Pope Francis to the President of the Republic and all people of South Sudan, which is unity, peace and reconciliation,” Dr. Barnaba said.
He added that the Vatican Secretary of State “was also able to assure the President about the visit of the Pope that there is the possibility that he will get well, and he will be able to come and see people of South Sudan.”
On his part, President Kiir assured Pope Francis that the country would have credible elections at the end of the transitional period.
In a July 5 statement shared on Facebook, the President said, “Even after the elections are held, the people will remain united as South Sudanese and work together for the country’s prosperity.”
The meeting between the Vatican delegation and President Kiir was followed by another meeting with first Vice President of South Sudan, Dr. Riek Machar.
Speaking after the meeting, Dr. Machar said, “The Pope’s arrival in South Sudan would boost the various processes underway, as this was what was already happening in the months leading up to the postponed papal trip.”