South Sudan Papal Ecumenical Visit Awaiting Vatican’s “official announcement”: Archbishop

Official logo and motto of Pope Francis’ Apostolic visit to the South Sudan. Credit: Vatican Media

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, Iain Greenshields, is awaiting the Holy See’s “official announcement”, the Archbishop of South Sudan’s only Metropolitan See has said.

On September 13, Pope Francis said he was in contact with the head of the Anglican Communion and the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in view of realizing their postponed ecumenical trip to South Sudan.

“I spoke the other day with Archbishop Welby [Archbishop of Canterbury and symbolic head of the Anglican Communion ed.] and we saw February (2023) as a possibility for going to South Sudan,” Pope Francis said in a conversation with reporters on his flight from Rome to Kazakhstan.

In an interview with Radio Bakhita that was reported Tuesday, September 20, Archbishop Stephen Ameyu Martin said that the Catholic Church in South Sudan is already making preparations while awaiting an official announcement from the Vatican.

“The Holy Father recently stated that he would still like to visit South Sudan and suggested the month of February,” Archbishop Ameyu said, adding that the ecumenical trip is not official yet because “we are still awaiting  an official announcement from the Holy See”.


“As a Church in South Sudan we will have this communicated to us when the time comes,” the Local Ordinary of Juba Archdiocese who doubles as the Apostolic Administrator of Torit Diocese further said.

The Church will continue with preparations “to receive the Holy Father and the other Church leaders,” Archbishop Ameyu said, and added, “We will announce to you the coming of the Holy Father when time comes through the mass media.”

On June 10, Matteo Bruni, the Holy See Press Office Director, announced the postponement “with regret” of the Holy Father’s third  trip to Africa.

“At the request of his doctors, and in order not to jeopardize the results of the therapy that he is undergoing for his knee, the Holy Father has been forced to postpone, with regret, his Apostolic Journey to the Democratic Republic of Congo and to South Sudan, planned for 2 to 7 July, to a later date to be determined,” Mr. Bruni stated.

Pope Francis suffers from a torn ligament in his right knee, a condition that has limited his ability to walk. On May 19, he used a wheelchair during a public meeting, the first time he had done so publicly since leaving the hospital after colon surgery in July 2021.

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In the program that the Holy See published on May 28, Pope Francis’ 37th Apostolic Visit abroad was to begin in the capital city of DRC, Kinshasa on July 2, and conclude on July 7 in South Sudan’s capital city, Juba.

On June 12, Pope Francis said he was praying to reschedule the Apostolic trip to DRC and the ecumenical visit to South Sudan “as soon as possible”.

In his remarks after his Angelus reflection for pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square on Holy Trinity Sunday, Pope Francis expressed optimism and asked the people of God to join him in praying for the realization of the two-African-nation pastoral visit.

He apologized to authorities of the two African nations for having to postpone the six-day trip.

On June 13, the Holy Father who was speaking at the start of his audience with members of the Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers) in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall reiterated his intention to reschedule his African trip.


“Unfortunately, with great regret, I had to postpone the trip to Congo and South Sudan,” the 85-year-old Pontiff said, and added, “Indeed, at my age, it is not so easy to go on a mission trip! But your prayers and example give me courage, and I am confident that I can visit these peoples, whom I carry in my heart.”

On July 2, the day he was previously scheduled to arrive in South Sudan, Pope Francis sent a video message urging the people of God in DRC and South Sudan not to let themselves “be robbed of hope” despite his decision to postpone his pastoral trip to the two African nations.

On July 5, Archbishop Welby and Greenshields assured the people of God in South Sudan that their ecumenical pilgrimage that was postponed would be realized.

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.