My Visit “another sign” of Church’s Solidarity in South Sudan’s Quest for Peace: Cardinal

Michael Cardinal Czerny delivery his homily at St. Theresa’s Kator Cathedral of Juba Archdiocese on Sunday, 4 February 2024. Credit: Ginaba Lino/Juba/South Sudan

The Prefect for the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development (DPIHD), who arrived in South Sudan on Saturday, February 3 for his eight-day pastoral trip has described his visit as an additional demonstration of the solidarity of the Catholic Church, and that of the Holy Father, with South Sudanese in their search for lasting peace.

Michael Cardinal Czerny’s February 2-9 pastoral visit to South Sudan marks one year since the first-ever Papal visit to the world’s newest and youngest nation. 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 was organized and realized under the theme, “I pray that all may be one”, taken from John 17.

In his homily at St. Theresa’s Kator Cathedral of Juba Archdiocese on Sunday, February 4, Cardinal Czerny said, “In his name, I bring you the Holy Father’s affection, solidarity and prayer. He has this world’s youngest nation close to his heart.”

Credit: Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC)

To underscore the “affection (and) solidarity” that he said Pope Francis has for the people of God in South Sudan, the Vatican-based Cardinal recalled the 11 April 2019 dramatic gesture when Pope Francis knelt and kissed the feet of President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Dr. Riek Machar among others.


The Holy Father demonstrated his closeness to South Sudanese “in word and gesture during the 2019 retreat in Rome for your nation’s political leaders,” the Czechian-born member of the Society of Jesus (SJ/Jesuits) said, adding that Pope Francis’ Ecumenical Visit “to this great nation a year ago” was an additional manifestation of his affection and solidarity.

Pope Francis has also demonstrated his compassion and love for South Sudanese “in his repeated exhortations to seek peace and make it lasting,” he further said. 

Credit: Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC)

“My visit in his name is another sign of the solidarity of the whole Church with you in your struggle for peace,” the Prefect of the Vatican DPIHD said in his February 4 homily in Juba.

He went on to note that since the Ecumenical Visit of Pope Francis to South Sudan, the quest for lasting in the country has not recorded much progress, and that little has “changed or improved”.

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Cardinal Czerny repeated the Holy Father’s messages to the different groups of people during his Ecumenical visit to the country, including civil authorities and diplomats, political leaders, and all the citizens of the nation that gained independence from Sudan in July 2011.

“Stressing the need for unity, reconciliation, cooperation, peace, he evoked the Nile to inspire a change in political will,” he said, recalling Pope Francis’ message to civil authorities and diplomats in Juba.

Credit: Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC)

The Cardinal repeated the Holy Father’s words, saying, “Just as the Nile leaves its sources to begin its course, so the course of history will leave behind the enemies of peace and bring renown to those who are true peacemakers.”

He also recalled Pope Francis’ address to South Sudanese political leaders on 3 February 2023, the first day of his Ecumenical Peace Pilgrimage to South Sudan.


“Without ‘if’s’ and ‘but’s’,” the Holy Father pleaded with South Sudanese leaders to say, “No more bloodshed, no more conflicts, no more violence and mutual recriminations about who is responsible for it, no more leaving your people a thirst for peace. No more destruction: It is time to build! Leave the time of war behind and let a time of peace dawn!” Cardinal Czerny recalled.

Credit: Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC)

He went on to recall the prayer of the Holy Father that his Ecumenical Peace Pilgrimage “be for everyone an occasion to revive hope, not only for the government, but for everyone.”

In his prayer for the Pilgrimage, Pope Francis implored for the South Sudanese to “understand that the time has come to stop being carried along by the tainted waters of hatred, tribalism, regionalism and ethnic differences,” Cardinal Czerny recalled during his February 4 homily at St. Theresa’s Cathedral of Juba Archdiocese. 

The Cardinal, who founded and directed the African Jesuit AIDS Network (AJAN) also reflected on the Readings of the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time.

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Credit: Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC)

He challenged the people of God in South Sudan to practice compassion in prioritizing the needs of others in the example of Jesus, who demonstrated a “deep sensitivity to people in need”, portrayed in his “miraculous healing of Peter’s mother-in-law who was sick with fever”, the Cardinal said. 

“The healing ministry of Jesus has special meaning for this country, which for decades has experienced vicious cycles of conflict and violence and the hardship and suffering they cause,” he noted. 

The Vatican Cardinal continued, “Like Job in the first reading, many of you can say, ‘I have been assigned months of misery, and troubled nights have been allotted to me. I am filled with restlessness until the dawn.’”

Credit: Ginaba Lino/Juba/South Sudan

“Now Jesus, desiring your well-being and your service, is constantly reaching out to take you and your people by the hand and lift you up again,” Cardinal Czerny said February 4.

He 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.

While in South Sudan, Cardinal Czerny is also expected to “bless a boat”, which Caritas South Sudan will be using to transport migrants and refugees along the Nile River from Renk.

Credit: Ginaba Lino/Juba/South Sudan

On February 8, he is 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”.

Credit: Ginaba Lino/Juba/South Sudan

In a January 31 interview, the Vatican Cardinal told ACI Africa that he was scheduled to ordain three Deacons in the Catholic Diocese of Malakal.

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