New Cardinal in South Sudan Says His Elevation “recognition” of Catholic Faith in Country

Pope Francis with Stephen Ameyu Martin Cardinal Mulla during the September 30 Consistory. Credit: Vatican Media

The elevation of the Local Ordinary of the Catholic Archdiocese of Juba, South Sudan’s only Metropolitan See, is an acknowledgement of Catholic faith in the East-Central African nation, the newly created Cardinal has said.

Stephen Ameyu Martin Cardinal Mulla, one of the three Africans created Cardinals, who was speaking after the September 30 Consistory that saw 21 Cardinals from 15 different countries created, said being Cardinal is a “recognition of the Catholic Church and the faith of the people of South Sudan in the universal Catholic Church.”

“Being a Cardinal is an eye opener and a proof to the world that South Sudan believes in God and deserves recognition in the top leadership of the Church,” Cardinal Mulla said.

The South Sudanese Cardinal added, “This office of the Cardinal is not only for one person; it is for all of us in South Sudan.”

“People have come to know that we believe in God and we also deserve to have the title of a Cardinal,” the Local Ordinary of Juba Archdiocese further said, and added, “I thank the Christians who prayed for us especially the new Cardinals, the 21 new Cardinals.”


“I wish that they also go to encourage their own people in their own Dioceses,” the new Cardinal whose transfer from Torit Diocese to Juba Archdiocese in December 2019 was met with resistance from a section of the Clergy and Laity of South Sudan’s only Metropolitan See said about the 21 Cardinals created during the September 30 Consistory.

He continued, “For us new Cardinals, it is our role to encourage people in their own difficulties; that alone can help us to have hope in God and hope in the life to come.”

“We have to conduct our lives in a good way and God who has called us to this vocation of being Christians can bless us to have an appropriate life,” the Catholic Church leader who started his Episcopal Ministry in March 2019 as Bishop of Torit Diocese said.

In his homily during the latest Consistory, Pope Francis addressed the newly elevated Catholic Church leaders, saying, “You new Cardinals have come from different parts of the world, and the same Spirit that made the evangelization of your peoples fruitful now renews in you your vocation and mission in and for the Church.”

“Mother Church, who speaks all languages, is one and is Catholic,” the Pope said, addressing himself to the new Cardinals he was creating, 18 of whom are under the age 80, and therefore eligible to vote in a conclave.

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Cardinal Mulla is the first-ever Cardinal in South Sudan, the world’s newest country that gained independence from Sudan on 9 July 2011. He is the second South Sudanese Cardinal, after the 82-year-old Gabriel Cardinal Zubeir Wako was elevated to the rank in October 2003 while serving as Archbishop of Sudan’s Khartoum Archdiocese. 

Other Cardinals from Africa that Pope Francis created during the September 30 Consistory included Protase Cardinal Rugambwa, the Coadjutor Archbishop of Tabora in Tanzania, and Stephen Cardinal Brislin, the Local Ordinary of South Africa’s Cape Town Archdiocese.

Also speaking after the September 30 Consistory, the Speaker of the National Parliament of South Sudan, Honorable Jemma Nunu Kumba, who headed the South Sudanese government delegation to Rome said, “This is a historic moment because this is the first time as a new country, the Republic of South Sudan, we are blessed with (a) Cardinal.”

“We only had a Cardinal for Sudan, Cardinal Wako and now we are blessed as South Sudanese with Cardinal Stephen Ameyu,” Hon. Kumba further said, and adding, “It is a very great blessing for us and I am very grateful to the Church for inviting us to witness this historic moment; as a country, we are very proud that we are new but yet great things are happening in our country.”

She went on to explain the mission of the South Sudanese delegation at the Vatican, saying, “We came here in solidarity with the Church, first as a Catholic myself and also as a Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of South Sudan to represent the people.


“One of our objectives for our liberation was to have a secular nation where there is freedom of worship and I am happy we are now coexisting; Christians and non-Christians in our country are coexisting peacefully,” the South Sudanese first-ever female Speaker of the National Parliament who started her Speaker service in August 2021 said. 

She appealed to South Sudanese, regardless of their religious affiliation, to offer Cardinal Mulla the support he needs to serve the people of God in the world's newest country. 

Kerbino Kuel Deng is a South Sudanese journalist who is passionate about Church communication. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.