One Year On, Apostolic Nuncio to South Sudan Highlights “fruits” of First-ever Papal Visit

Archbishop Hubertus van Megen during the 3 February 2024 Eucharistic celebration at at St. Theresa’s Kator Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Juba. Credit: Ginaba Lino/Juba/South Sudan

One year since the first-ever Papal visit to South Sudan, the representative of the Holy Father in the East-Central African nation has highlighted the benefits of the 3-5 February 2023 Ecumenical Visit, which Pope Francis undertook alongside the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, Iain Greenshields.

The Ecumenical Pilgrimage for peace to South Sudan by the three church leaders was organized and realized under the theme, “I pray that all may be one”, taken from John 17.

In his Saturday, February 3 homily at St. Theresa’s Kator Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Juba, the venue of Pope Francis’ 4 February 2023 meeting with members of the Clergy, women and men Religious, and Seminarians, Archbishop Hubertus van Megen challenged the people of God in South Sudan to be “salt of the earth”, living honest lives founded on Gospel values.

“The Holy Father, after his visit to Juba, gave us the gift of a Cardinal, His Eminence Stephen Ameyu, as a recognition of the importance of the Church of South Sudan,” Archbishop van Megen said.

Archbishop Hubertus van Megen. Credit: Ginaba Lino/Juba/South Sudan


The elevation of Archbishop Ameyu to Cardinal, the Apostolic Nuncio added, was “a recognition not only by the way of the Church as Bishops or as Priests or as Religious, but as we are all here today, people of God, because we all are part of that Church and we all have a responsibility and a commitment to that church.”

The Nairobi-based Vatican diplomat, who also represents the Holy Father in Kenya said that before Pope Francis’ ecumenical visit to South Sudan, all vacant Dioceses in the World’s newest nation had received their receptive shepherds.

It was as if “God was strengthening this Church, putting it back on strong foundations,” Archbishop van Megen said to underscore the “fruits” of the Papal visit.

In his February 3 homily, the day the Prefect for the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development (DPIHD), Michael Cardinal Czerny, arrived in the country for his eight-day pastoral visit, Archbishop van Megen challenged the people of God in South Sudan to live honest lives as “salt of the earth”, guided by Gospel values.

Michael Cardinal Czerny arrives South Sudan for his 8-day Pastoral Trip. Credit: Ginaba Lino/Juba/South Sudan

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He explained, “Salt of the earth is about giving taste to life even more and deeper, to give sense to life and to be that sense for life, to live for others, not so much for yourself but for others; that others find taste in you, that you are that salt of the earth.”

“The Church is there, and it is built on strong foundations. But that is not enough. It's about giving taste. God, in a sense, has done his work, but now he's waiting for our initiative,” the Dutch-born Vatican diplomat said.

He went on to pose, “How do we, as a Church, as Christians, give taste to society? How do we, as Priests, Bishops, how are we salt of the earth? How much are we ready to give? Are we really able to say, after Christ, this is my body and blood for you, and I give it all, I surrender completely, I keep nothing back, I give it all to you, Christ, because you have given everything to me?”

Credit: Ginaba Lino/Juba/South Sudan

“As a church, we want to follow in the footsteps of Pope Francis, following in the footsteps of Christ, to be salt of the earth, to give ourselves completely in this country of ours, in South Sudan, so that we will truly be called Christians, servants of the Most High,” Archbishop van Megen said in his homily at Holy Mass to mark one year since the first-ever Papal visit to the South Sudan.


Another Eucharistic celebration to mark the first Anniversary of the Pope Francis’ visit to the country has been scheduled for Sunday, February 4, to be presided over by Cardinal Czerny, who arrived in the country on February 3 morning.

Speaking to journalists after the Prefect of the DPIHD landed at Juba International Airport, his host, Cardinal Ameyu, “thanked God for the timely visit” of Cardinal Czerny.

Credit: Ginaba Lino/Juba/South Sudan

The Vatican Cardinal’s visit is to “remind the South Sudanese community of the need to work for peace and unity”, the Local Ordinary of Juba Archdiocese said.

He called upon the people of God in South Sudan to remember “the message brought by Pope Francis a year ago that all may be one taken from the prayer of Jesus.”

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Cardinal Czerny is also scheduled to travel to South Sudan’s Malakal Diocese, where he is to visit Renk, an “outreach point” in the Northeastern part of South Sudan for those fleeing violence in Sudan’s capital city, Khartoum.

At Renk, the Czechian-born member of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) is to “bless a boat”, which Caritas South Sudan will be using to transport migrants and refugees along the Nile River from Renk to Malakal.

Credit: Ginaba Lino/Juba/South Sudan

On February 8, the Cardinal, who founded and directed the African Jesuit AIDS Network (AJAN) in Nairobi, Kenya, from 2002 to 2010 is also scheduled to preside over Holy Mass at a Malakal Catholic Church dedicated in honor of St. Josephine Bakhita, 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, the Vatican Cardinal told ACI Africa in a January 31 interview.

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