Church in South Sudan Invited to share in Pope Francis' "pilgrimage of peace" During Visit

Bishop Christian Carlassare of South Sudan's Rumbek Diocese. Credit: Rumbek Diocese

The Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Rumbek in South Sudan has invited people of different faiths in the East-Central African nation to prepare to join Pope Francis in his "pilgrimage of faith" during the Holy Father's planned Ecumenical visit to the country.

Pope Francis is expected to visit South Sudan between February 3 and 5 next year in what has been described as an Ecumenical Pilgrimage of Peace in the African nation that has been experiencing protracted violence. 

The Holy Father’s pastoral trip to Africa will, however, start on January 31 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), before joining the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, Iain Greenshields for the South Sudan visit.

In a Christmas message shared with ACI Africa, Bishop Christian Carlassare of the Catholic Diocese of Rumbek in South Sudan invites the people of God in the country to embrace the Holy Father's visit as an opportunity to work for peace and reconciliation in the country.

"Pope Francis will soon come to visit us (on February 3-5, 2023). He said that his coming to South Sudan is a pilgrimage of peace undertaken together with leaders of other Christian denominations. Let us join him in this pilgrimage and continue to work for peace and reconciliation," Bishop Carlassare says in the Friday, December 16 message. 


He adds, "Let us continue to pray for peace in our country. Peace is not simply a goal or a future achievement. It is a path: a narrow path. And we have to walk that way all along and all together. We won’t cross the finish line unless we start the journey and we keep walking together."

In his message, the member of the Comboni Missionaries (MCCJ) who was ordained Bishop of Rumbek on March 25 shares the joy of celebrating his first Christmas as Prelate in South Sudan.

"I thank God for giving me the joy of celebrating Christmas in Rumbek this year. And I also thank each one of you for being here and nurturing the birth of baby Jesus in our communities," the Italian-born Bishop who has ministered in South Sudan since 2005 says.

He implores, "May the celebration of Christmas bring us together to be the family of God."

Bishop Carlassare’s Christmas tribute in his poem, "What is Man", is an invitation for the people of God in South Sudan to live in solidarity, letting go of their "tribal instincts". Here is the poem:

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What is Man? 

At Christmas I ask for no other gift than this 

as your human face Lord, I seek 

thus, let my eyes contemplate it 

and my hands touch it 


and the heart rejoices at his beauty. 

Haven’t you seen me? 18 times I have been born in Africa for you my son and this time you will find me abandoned under a Rumbek tree 

dark-skinned child gathered in the arms of a young girl 

do not disdain my condition because of my brothers 

discarded and sold for a pair of sandals or so. 

(Story continues below)

That's where I am born and nowhere else, so unexpectedly 

among humiliated people, slumped in the mud with broken legs 

victims of subtle violence and reckless lust for wealth 

I am born among people determined to raise and make peace 

defending dignity, bearing witness to the truth, doing justice. 

If we are deprived of the grace of your face there is no remedy for humiliation and in fact, there can be no reflected beauty in the world 

if there is no emancipation from the tribal instincts of friend against enemy and one learns to live solidarity among the humiliated as a way of life 

recognizing, in the transparent gaze of child Jesus, the reflection of a brother and sister. 

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.