Vatican Cardinal’s Visit an “encouragement to remain vigilant”: Bishops in Sudan, S. Sudan

Bishop Yunan Tombe Trille, delivering the message of members of the Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC). Credit: Courtesy Photo

Catholic Bishops in Sudan and South Sudan have, in a collective statement, described the visit of the Vatican Secretary of State to the East-Central African nation as an “encouragement” for the people of God in the two neighboring countries “to remain vigilant” before the realization of Pope Francis’ the postponed ecumenical trip.

In their message at the conclusion of the visit of the Pietro Cardinal Parolin, members of the Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC) say the trip marked “an historic moment” and express gratitude to various stakeholders for the success of the July 5-8 event.

“We thank God for encouragement and spiritual nourishment we have received from the visit,” SCBC members who comprise Catholic Church leaders at the helm of Catholic Dioceses in Sudan and South Sudan say in their July 8 message shared with ACI Africa.

They recall the message of the special envoy of the Holy Father reconfirming the Pope’s desire to realize his previously planned visit, saying, the four-day visit by Cardinal Parolin was “an encouragement to remain vigilant for the coming of Pope Francis to our country.”

“It has been a moment which has brought many South Sudanese and Sudanese from all walks of life,” the Catholic Bishops in Sudan and South Sudan say, and add, “The few days we have been together for this visit has taught us that the Church, government and indeed every leader has the capacity to rise to the standard which makes us one despite our religious and political affiliations.”


They encourage the people of God in Sudan and South Sudan “to keep our hopes high for the visit of Pope Francis to South Sudan,” calling upon, in reference to the Holy Father, to “continue to pray for his speedy health recovery.”

SCBC members go on to express gratitude to various stakeholders involved in planning for Cardinal Parolin’s visit that they say was successful. 

“We would like to thank each and every one who has offered time, money, advice, materials. spiritual and moral support towards the occasion we have celebrated,” SCBC members say.

They add, “Our attention is drawn to our Government, Non-Governmental Organizations, Business community, our Christians and our energetic youth for the enormous support and participation.”

Catholic Church leaders who are at the helm of the seven Dioceses in South Sudan and two Dioceses in Sudan further single out the Steering Committee in the Archdiocese of Juba for facilitating the visit of the Vatican Secretary of State.

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“We are indeed grateful for the leadership of His Grace Stephen Ameyu, the Archbishop of Juba who headed our Steering Committee and all the collaborators for the success of the event that we have celebrated,” they say, and add, “Much thanks goes to our Ecumenical Sisterly Churches for the collaboration we have experienced together.”

Delegated by Pope Francis to visit the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and South Sudan following the postponement of his third trip to Africa, Cardinal Parolin arrived in Juba on July 5 to pass a message of peace and hold prayers in the country.

Addressing journalists shortly after his arrival, the Vatican official said that Pope Francis is “very much concerned” about the progress of efforts towards lasting peace and reconciliation in South Sudan.

After his meeting with the President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir, Cardinal Parolin told authorities in the East-Central African nation that the only “necessary fight” should be the one toward “peace and development”.

On July 6, Cardinal Parolin traveled to Bentiu, Unity State where he visited a camp for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the country as well as populations displaced by floods.


On July 7, the Vatican Secretary of State presided over Holy Mass at Dr. John Garang Mausoleum, a memorial dedicated to the leader of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) and first Vice President of Sudan following the 2005 peace agreement.

In his homily, Cardinal Parolin cautioned against hatred, injustice, and violence, saying, “Now it’s the time of responsibility and concrete actions. It’s the time to turn down the world of hatred, to break the yoke of every injustice in the country soaked by blood and violence.”

On the last day of his visit to South Sudan, the Vatican Secretary urged Major Seminarians in the South Sudan to take advantage of their years of Seminary formation, emphasizing, “This is my suggestion, it’s my advice; it is my counsel to you. Take advantage of this time of your formation because it will not come back.”

He also blessed the foundation stone of the new Apostolic Nunciature in Juba.

Cardinal Parolin later visited the Catholic University of South Sudan (CUofSS) as well as the Usratuna rehabilitation center in Juba, a place where people belonging to different religions collaborate for the integration of disabled children and the training of their families.

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In their July 8 signed by SCBC President, Bishop Yunan Tombe Trille, Catholic Bishops in Sudan and South Sudan also reflect on the 11th anniversary of the Independence of South Sudan marked on July 9.

“We cannot forget to thank God for the gift of our young nation the Republic of South Sudan as we celebrate its 11 Birthday of Independence,” they say, and continue, “The Republic of South Sudan exists because of the people called South Sudanese otherwise it could just be one of the forests in the heart of Africa.”

SCBC members further say, “Eleven years is a reasonable number of years to count the progress of a child who has parents.”

“It is time for us as South Sudanese to rise above our differences and put our country in order and its citizens to experience the dignity of living as we deserve,” they further say, and add, “It is a collective responsibility which we must carry according to the gospel values.”

Making reference to the homily of Cardinal Parolin during the July 7 Holy Mass, SCBC members say, “Jesus asks us to be different to be signs that run counter to the way of a world torn by hatred and by violence.”

They express their concern “about the political turmoil in Sudan which is dragging on for more than a year.”

“The economic situation is biting and life is hard for the people,” Catholic Bishops in Sudan and South Sudan say in reference to the protracted conflict in Sudan.

They appeal to the international community, saying, “We call on all people who shoulder the responsibility of promoting peace in the United Nations and the like-minded organizations to pay attention and come to the aid of the Sudanese people.”

SCBC members assure the people of God in Sudan their spiritual solidarity. They say, “We carry you in our hearts and assure you of our prayers so that justice, peace and development come to Sudan and South Sudan.”

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.