Vatican Cardinal “to renew” Pope’s Peace Message in Pastoral Trip to South Sudan

Michael Cardinal Czerny during his January 17-20 pastoral trip in Benin.. Credit: Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development (DPIHD)

The Prefect for the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development (DPIHD) is “to renew” the Holy Father’s peace message during his eight-day pastoral visit to South Sudan scheduled to begin on Friday, February 2.

In an interview with ACI Africa on Wednesday, January 31, Michael Cardinal Czerny shared details of the pastoral trip, including some of the planned activities and the practice of listening that he said was a priority for the Vatican DPIHD. 

“I'll just be bringing the solidarity and the prayers and the support of the Holy Father to South Sudan and to Sudan,” Cardinal Czerny said.

During the pastoral visit that will see him preside over Holy Eucharist to mark one year since the first-ever Papal visit to South Sudan, the Cardinal will share the message of peace, which he said will aim “to renew the message of peace of the Holy Father, to express our solidarity and concern about the vulnerable migrants or returnees, our devotion to St. Bakhita and all that she represents for the church in South Sudan and Sudan and really, around the world.”

Michael Cardinal Czerny during his January 17-20 pastoral trip in Benin. Credit: Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development (DPIHD)


The Holy Father is “sending me (to South Sudan) so as to give the path to peace a boost,” the Vatican-based Cardinal said, adding that the pastoral trip is a demonstration of the “great concern” for the people of God in South Sudan amid political and humanitarian challenges.

The Czechian-born member of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) is scheduled to visit South Sudan’s only Metropolitan See, Juba, and one of the six suffragan Dioceses, Malakal.

In Juba, he is set to preside over Holy Mass on Sunday, February 4 at St. Theresa’s Cathedral of Juba Archdiocese, the venue of Pope Francis’ 4 February 2023 meeting with members of the Clergy, women and men Religious, and Seminarians during his three-day visit to South Sudan.

The Cardinal, who founded and directed the African Jesuit AIDS Network (AJAN) in Nairobi, Kenya, from 2002 to 2010 is also scheduled to visit Renk, one of the entry points for those fleeing violence in Sudan’s capital city, Khartoum.

Michael Cardinal Czerny during his January 17-20 pastoral trip in Benin. Credit: Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development (DPIHD)

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At the “outreach point” in the Northeastern part of South Sudan, Cardinal Czerny is to “bless a boat”, which Caritas South Sudanwill use to transport migrants and refugees along the Nile River from Renk to Malakal."

On February 8, the Feast of St. Josephine Bakhita, he is scheduled to preside over the Eucharistic celebration at a Malakal Catholic Church dedicated in honor of the Sudanese-born saint, who is the patron saint of victims of modern slavery and human trafficking.

During the February 8 Holy Mass, the Prefect of the DPIHD is to lead the people of God at St. Josephine Bakhita Church in Malakal in marking the tenth annual World Day of Prayer and Reflection against Human Trafficking, whose theme is, “Journeying in Dignity. Listen. Dream. Act”. 

He is also set to ordain three Deacons in the Catholic Diocese of Malakal, he told ACI Africa during the January 31 interview.

Asked about what the people of God in South Sudan should expect during his pastoral visit, the 77-year-old Cardinal, who was Ordained Bishop in October 2019 said the trip will be characterized by a listening attitude. 


“As we do now in our Dicastery, to go and listen. We really need to listen and once we've listened, then we can probably comment on the other things. But the first thing to do is to listen,” he said.

Michael Cardinal Czerny during his January 17-20 pastoral trip in Benin. Credit: Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development (DPIHD)

The Cardinal expressed his awareness of the challenges the people of God in South Sudan and Sudan are facing and cautioned them against giving up “hope along the way.”

“The difficulties are enormous, and we want them to experience our solidarity, to be sure of our prayer, and that we're attentive to any way in which we can be of help,” the Vatican-based Cardinal told ACI Africa.

He added, “We pray really for their safety and for them not to lose hope that the path of peace.”

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Even if at times it is “very hard to see” to see any hope, hope “is the only path that is worth following,” Cardinal Czerny told ACI Africa ahead of his eight-day pastoral trip to South Sudan.

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