“Remember Pope Francis’ Kiss” Campaign in South Sudan to Continue: Official

Delegation of South Sudan political leaders at the Vatican with Pope Francis in April 2019. Credit:Vatican Media

A campaign dubbed “Remember Pope Francis' Kiss for Peace” that was launched in South Sudan is to continue despite the postponement of the previously scheduled ecumenical visit that the Holy Father was to undertake alongside the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, Jim Wallace.

In a Monday, June 13 report, the Executive Director of Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO), the entity spearheading the campaign, says, “Since communication on the postponement indicates that the interest of the global spiritual leaders will visit South Sudan at a later date to be determined, we will continue with the campaign.”

Edmund Yakani adds in reference to the news of the postponement of the ecumenical visit to South Sudan, “This message made our hopes still alive since in the future we will be expecting the visit of His Holiness Pope Francis and other spiritual leaders.”

Officially launched on April 10 by CEPO, “remember Pope Francis' Kiss for Peace” campaign aims at challenging political leaders in South Sudan to foster “peace and stability”, according to CEPO Executive Director.

The campaign seeks to recall 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.


This was after a spiritual retreat that brought together the South Sudanese President, the opposition leader, Dr. Machar, and the widow of South Sudanese leader John Garang, Rebecca Nyandeng De Mabior, among other political and religious leaders from South Sudan. 

Reflections during the retreat had focused on the national anthem of South Sudan under the guidance of Archbishop John Baptist Odama of Uganda’s Gulu Archdiocese, and Jesuit Fr. Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator who was at the helm of the Conference of Major Superiors of Africa and Madagascar.

In an interview with ACI Africa June 2, CEPO Executive Director said that the now postponed ecumenical visit was expected to have an impact on politicians as well as citizens in South Sudan to work toward lasting peace.

“The global spiritual leaders’ visit will motivate our political elites to offer a chance for peace to prevail through the implementation of R-ARCSS, Mr. Yakani said in reference to the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan.

He added, “Citizens are expecting the coming of the Holy Father as an end to violence because it will help our political leaders in making peace and stability realized.”

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On June 12, Pope Francis said he is praying to reschedule the apostolic trip to DRC and the ecumenical visit to South Sudan “as soon as possible”.

In his remarks after his Angelus reflection for pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square on Holy Trinity, the Holy Father expressed optimism and asked the people of God to join him in praying for the realization of the two-African-nation pastoral visit. He apologized to authorities of the two African nations for having to postpone the six-day trip.

On June 13, the Holy Father reiterated his intention to reschedule his African trip.

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.