Strive to End Violence “ahead of visit by Holy Father”: Ecumenical Official in South Sudan

Pope Francis with South Sudanese leaders in the Vatican. Credit: Vatican Media

An ecumenical official with the South Sudan Council of Churches (SSCC) is advocating for an end to violence in the East-Central African nation as the country prepares to host Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland.

The Holy Father is scheduled to arrive in South Sudan on July 5 in his two-African-nation pastoral trip that is to begin in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on July 2.

In a Monday, April, 25 Interview with ACI Africa, Joan Rachel, SSCC Advocacy Coordinator, also called on South Sudanese to prepare themselves spiritually for ecumenical visit.

“I need to ask us to be peaceful and prepare our hearts and minds for the coming of the Pope,” Ms. Joan told ACI Africa, and added, “Let us strengthen our faith and let us keep pushing for peaceful ways of ending violence ahead of the visit by the Holy father.”

When realized, the July 2-7 pastoral trip to the two African countries will mark Pope Francis’ third visit to sub-Saharan Africa.


The journey will be the first-ever Papal visit to South Sudan and the third Papal trip to DRC, which is home to Africa's largest Catholic population.

In the April 25 interview with ACI Africa, the SSCC official made reference to the ongoing communal violence in South Sudan and urged local communities “to leave peacefully.”

Ms. Joan said, “We can speak to one another but we don’t need to fight. We need to use our guns to protect our people, to protect our country and not to kill ourselves.”

On March 21, local authorities in Eastern Equatoria State confirmed that seven people had been killed and hundreds of villagers displaced when rustlers clashed with cattle herders in the Owinykibul area of Magwi County.

The reported violent conflict in Magwi County added to the number of violent clashes recorded in parts of the East-Central African nation recently.

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On March 27, the Catholic Archbishop of Juba decried the reported violent clashes in the country’s Eastern Equatoria State, and said the violence being witnessed is “work of the devil”.

Archbishop Stephen Ameyu Martin who was speaking at the fundraising event for the renovation of All Saints Parish Church of Juba Archdiocese said the reported deadly conflict was part of the devil’s ways of dividing South Sudanese along ethnic and regional lines.

“This violence is not brought by anybody but it is brought by the devil, the evil one who wants to separate us along the tribes and regions and along all the clans,” Archbishop Ameyu said.

He appealed to the people of God in South Sudan to “pray hard” in order to stop the devil from destroying the world’s youngest 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.