Rome Newsroom, 03 February, 2023 / 3:30 pm (ACI Africa).
Pope Francis on Friday became the first pope to visit South Sudan — fulfilling a yearslong hope to carry out an ecumenical trip to the war-torn country.
The pope has called his Feb. 3-5 visit to Juba, South Sudan’s capital, a “pilgrimage of peace.” His Anglican counterpart, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, along with the moderator of the Church of Scotland, Iain Greenshields, will visit the newest African nation together.
Pope Francis had spoken about the possibility of the trip as early as 2017, fewer than four years after the outbreak of civil war in 2013.
He has personally intervened to send aid to the country and to encourage South Sudan’s leaders to reach a real and lasting peace agreement — including inviting President Salva Kiir Mayardit and his former rival Vice President Riek Machar for a retreat at the Vatican.
After landing in South Sudan in the afternoon of Feb. 3, Pope Francis was joined by Archbishop Welby and Right Rev. Greenshields.