Catholic Archbishop in South Sudan Hopes Ecumenical Visit to “touch hearts of politicians”

Archbishop Stephen Ameyu Martin of Juba Archdiocese during the January 18 Press Conference. Credit: CRN

The Catholic Archbishop of Juba in South Sudan has expressed optimism that the planned ecumenical visit to the country early next month will “touch the hearts of politicians” to seek peace.

Addressing journalists at the Sudan and South Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat on Wednesday, January 18, Archbishop Stephen Ameyu Martin said the scheduled ecumenical visit is expected to help politicians implement the September 2018 Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS).

“We hope the coming of the Holy Father will make us realize the aspect of peace in this country and touch the hearts of politicians,” Archbishop Ameyu about the Ecumenical Pilgrimage to be undertaken by Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, Iain Greenshields, from February 3-5.

The South Sudanese Archbishop added, “After the signing of the peace agreement, the next thing is to bring our hearts together.”

“The Holy Father is making this pilgrimage in order to reach our hearts personally and touch them with his prayers so that the spirit of God should be present in our agreement,” he said.


The Catholic Church leader further said, “The implementation of the revitalized peace agreement should not be the word of mouth but should be put under implementation by letter and spirit.”

“We hope that the head of the devil will not settle here in South Sudan because the Holy Father and the other religious leaders are coming,” Archbishop Ameyu said, and continued, “All the powers of God will work through these holy people coming to the country.”

Like the itinerary of the previously postponed trip, the January 31 – February 5 two-African-nation trip is scheduled to begin in the capital city of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Kinshasa, and conclude in South Sudan’s capital city, Juba.

In his January 18 address to journalists, Archbishop Ameyu said the people of God in the world’s youngest nation “will have a chance to hear the direct message of peace from the Pope through media and physically for those in Juba.”

“We hope the coming of Pope Francis will bring the hearts of all South Sudanese including Church leaders, politicians, women, and children to work for peace in this country,” the Local Ordinary of South Sudan’s only Metropolitan See said.

More in Africa

He noted that the ecumenical visit to South Sudan will “enrich us as a Church and as a nation because it’s a kind of opportunity for us to get our minds together for peace, reconciliation, and love.”

“We pray that the visit will be successful and it will not be like any other visits,” the 59-year-old Catholic leader who started his Episcopal Ministry in March 2019 as Bishop of Torit said, and added, “We hope that each and every one of us will be enriched by this visit.”

Pope Francis is scheduled to arrive in Juba from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on February 3 and return to the Vatican on July 5. 

Meanwhile, the Catholic Bishop of South Sudan’s Malakal Diocese, Stephen Nyodho Ador Majwok, has urged South Sudanese pilgrims outside Juba to begin their journey early enough. 

“Christians from all the Dioceses across South Sudan should begin their journey by next week footing with prayers and fasting for peace in South Sudan,” Bishop Nyodho said during the January 18 press conference.


He added, “We are assuring you today that the Holy Father is coming. Let us prepare ourselves; those who are near to Juba should start coming on foot and those who are far also should start coming from today on.” 

“The visit is very important for us the people of South Sudan because we will get blessings and messages of peace from our religious leaders,” the 50-year-old South Sudanese Bishop who has been the Local Ordinary of Malakal Diocese since his Episcopal Ordination in July 2019 said.

He called on the people of God in South Sudan to “prepare themselves spiritually to receive the Holy Father.”

“We have to work hard so that this visit of the Holy Father together with the moderator of the Presbyterian Church and the Archbishop of Canterbury may be a point of transformation in our country,” the Local Ordinary of Malakal Diocese told the journalists January 18.

When realized, the pastoral trip to the two African countries will mark his third visit to sub-Saharan Africa and the first-ever Papal visit to South Sudan. 

(Story continues below)

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.