“Be faithful to peace agreement”: Vatican Cardinal to South Sudanese ahead of Elections

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

The people of God in South Sudan are at a “critical moment” in their political life as the world’s newest and youngest nation prepares for general elections currently scheduled for December 2024, a Vatican-based Cardinal visiting the country has said.

Michael Cardinal Czerny, who arrived in South Sudan on Saturday, February 3 for his eight-day pastoral trip has emphasized the need for citizens and all the stakeholders in the ongoing peace negotiations to “be faithful” to the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS).

Signed in September 2018 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, R-ARCSS provides a framework for ending the country’s civil war, which erupted in December 2013 after President Salva Kiir accused his then Vice President, Riek Machar, of plotting a coup.

“Dear brothers and sisters, this is a critical moment in the political life of your country. As you prepare for the general elections, pray and work hard to ensure that it is nonviolent, fair, transparent, credible and peaceful,” Cardinal Czerny said in his homily at St. Theresa’s Kator Cathedral of Juba Archdiocese on Sunday, February 4.Credit: Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC)

To deliver credible elections, the Prefect for the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development (DPIHD), underscored the need for “groundwork”, which he said entails “putting into place needed infrastructures in the political sphere, preparing your minds and hearts for possible transition.”


“A peaceful transfer of power not only indicates political maturity, but it also assures good governance and holistic development, both of which are so needed,” he said.

The Vatican-based Cardinal emphasized the need to implement the 2018 R-ARCSS, saying, “I therefore urge you to be faithful to the peace agreement, not just you but also members of the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (R-TGoNU), and all signers of the peace agreement.”

Credit: Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC)

South Sudan’s R-TGoNU, comprising the government and the country’s main opposition was formed on 22 February 2020 this year.

Cardinal Czerny’s February 2-9 pastoral visit to South Sudan marks one year since the first-ever Papal visit to the country. The 3-5 February 2023 Ecumenical Visit, which Pope Francis realized alongside the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, Iain Greenshields was organized under the theme, “I pray that all may be one”, taken from John 17.

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In his homily at St. Theresa’s Cathedral of Juba Archdiocese, the Czechian-born member of the Society of Jesus (SJ/Jesuits) called for “integrity and commitment” in the implementation of the R-ARCSS, adding that it was critical that “the yet-unrealized remaining steps” are realized as part of the “the election process”.

Credit: Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC)

“The full implementation of these prerequisites will be a guarantee to the population of South Sudan that never again will there be bloodshed, never again will South Sudanese fear insecurity in their own Country and never again will the South Sudanese need to seek refuge in other countries due to violence,” he said.

Referring to the full implementation of the R-ARCSS, the Cardinal added, “This is your responsibility as leaders. Don’t forget that God is watching over you as a Shepherd and a Judge, and don’t forget to root even this work in prayer.”

He went on to advocate for an inclusive process in the implementation of the R-ARCSS, saying, “For sustainable peace to be realized, it is important to include everybody in the process.”


Credit: Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC)

“A family will not achieve inclusion and peace until every member is in the presence of the other, under the same roof, as it were, and engaging with each other,” the Prefect of the Vatican DPIHD said.

He recognized the role of the Rome-based lay Catholic association dedicated to the provision of social services and arbitrating conflicts, Sant’Egidio Community, in the South Sudan peace process.

The Cardinal said, “I encourage you to continue to cooperate with the efforts of Sant’ Egidio and other actors in inviting the groups that are resistant to participate in the process.”

Credit: Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC)

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“I once again assure you, the people of South Sudan, of the perpetual prayers of the Holy Father and of my prayers that you grow as a nation, as a family, in peace,” Cardinal Czerny said during Holy Mass at St. Theresa’s Cathedral of Juba Archdiocese on February 4. 

He is 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.

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.

Credit: Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC)

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”.

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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