“Ecumenical flavor of unity”: Catholic Bishop in South Sudan ahead of Ecumenical Visit

A poster welcoming Pope Francis to South Sudan. Credit: Courtesy Photo

The arrival of three global church leaders in South Sudan on Friday, February 3 will bring about an “ecumenical flavor of unity”, a Catholic Bishop in the East-Central African nation has said in reference to the planned visit of Pope Francis, the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, Iain Greenshields.

In a Monday, January 30 report by Ruru Gene Newsletter of the Catholic Diocese of Tombura-Yambio (CDTY), Bishop Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala calls on the people of God in South Sudan to support the Holy Father and the other two church leaders in prayers.

“Pope Francis’ visit will bring people hope, tolerance, forgiving spirit, the ecumenical flavor of unity, reconciliation, healing,” Bishop Hiiboro says in the report, and adds that the three church leaders will motivate South Sudanese to renew the “love for our nation, empower faith in God, and provide an opening for sustainable peace after so many years of conflict and division.” 

I would like to encourage all of us to make a special effort to support Pope Francis in prayer during this critical time, both in the Prayers of the Faithful during Mass as well as in our own private prayer,” Bishop Hiiboro says.

Pope Francis arrived in Kinshasa on Tuesday, January 31, the first stop of his Apostolic journey to Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and South Sudan. 


After the official welcome of the Holy Father in DRC at Ndjili international airport in Kinshasa, a 15-minute welcome ceremony was conducted at the "Palais de la Nation" in Kinshasa as had been outlined in the program and itinerary that the Vatican unveiled.

He is scheduled to meet with DRC authorities, victims of the conflict in the Eastern part of the country and representatives of charitable organizations, celebrate Holy Mass, meet with young people, Catholic Bishops, and selected members of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) in the Central Africa Province before embarking on the second leg of his two-African-nation trip.

In the January 30 report, the Local Ordinary of CDTY urges the people of God in his Episcopal See to pray for pilgrims traveling to Juba ahead of the three-day ecumenical visit that is scheduled to conclude on Sunday, February 5. 

“We also pray for the 200 pilgrims traveling from our Diocese to receive and pray with Pope Francis in Juba this week,” the 58-year-old Bishop who has been at the helm of CDTY since his Episcopal Ordination in June 2008 says.

Bishop Hiiboro directs all Diocesan institutions “to observe a week of less intensity of work (Meaning holidays) within our institution and administration.”

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“Our Diocese should continue to engage in Triduum prayers for the Holy Father from January 31 – February 5,” he says.

This is the third Apostolic Journey of Pope Francis to sub-Saharan Africa. While it is also the third Papal visit to DRC, which is home to Africa's largest Catholic population, the pastoral visit to South Sudan will mark the first-ever Papal trip to the East-Central African nation that gained independence from Sudan in July 2011.

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.