Newly Elevated South Sudanese Cardinal Calls for Togetherness, with “God ahead of us”

Stephen Ameyu Martin Cardinal Mulla greets the faithful upon arrival at the Juba International Airport in South Sudan. Credit: ACI Africa

The newly elevated South Sudanese Cardinal returned to his Metropolitan See from Rome with a call to togetherness, emphasizing the need to invoke and rely upon God’s graces for lasting peace in the world’s newest country.

Addressing journalists at Juba International Airport (JIA) on Monday, October 30 after arriving from Rome, Stephen Ameyu Martin Cardinal Mulla said, “Let’s work together for peace; not (only) a peace for the silence of guns, but (also) a peace of Christ that puts each one of us together.”

The Local Ordinary of the Catholic Archdiocese of Juba, who was among the three Africans created Cardinals during the September 30 Consistory acknowledged with appreciation the “warm reception” he had just been accorded upon his return to South Sudan’s only Metropolitan See, and added, “As we come together to remember this day … let’s put God ahead of us.”

Credit: ACI Africa

“God has given us this nation so that we can be people of history,” Cardinal Mulla said. While the past has been characterized with “bloodshed”, he observed, “God is opening for us a new page,” he added.


He went on to underscore the need for the people of God to “work together in order to build up a relationship that can extend to all, not only to the few.”

The South Sudanese Cardinal advocated for practice of love and forgiveness “from the bottom of my heart”, and explained, “It is only forgiveness that makes us mature. It is only forgiveness that makes our Church strong.”

Credit: ACI Africa

“We cannot build unity without love; we can build it together. Let’s love one another,” he emphasized, adding, “It is the love and faith in Jesus Christ that unites us.”

The Cardinal who was among the 364 voting delegates in the October 4-29 XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops called for collaboration between the government of South Sudan and the Church. 

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“The Church and the government can work together in order to complement one another,” Cardinal Mulla said during the October 30 press conference at JIA, and thanked the South Sudanese authorities for being part of the delegation that was at the airport to receive him.

Credit: ACI Africa

He continued in reference to his call for Church-State collaboration, “There are fields that we can participate in together; in education and in making peace and all other fields. We can work together in order to build this country; one person alone is unable to do the job.”

The newly elevated Cardinal whose transfer from Torit Diocese to Juba Archdiocese in December 2019 was met with resistance from a section of the Clergy and Laity recalled the cultural diversity of South Sudan, and underscored the need for unity in diversity to realize development. 

“We are 64 tribes. God has put us to this nation and we must build it together,” he said.


Credit: ACI Africa

The Archbishop of Juba challenged the youth in the world’s youngest nation to strive to “make a difference” in the growth of the Church and society.

“We can bring peace to this country,” he said, and added, “Throw (away) the guns that kill your brothers and sisters, and live the love of God that unites all of us.”

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, who 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.

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Speaking after the Consistory, Cardinal Mulla said that his elevation to Cardinal was a “recognition of the Catholic Church and the faith of the people of South Sudan in the universal Catholic Church.”

Credit: ACI Africa

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

Cardinal Mulla reiterated the same message during the October 30 press conference at JIA.

“This chair of the Cardinal is not for Stephen Ameyu; it is for all of us South Sudanese. It is a sign that our Church has matured; it is no longer a young Church because we have celebrated 100 years of faith, and that faith the Holy Father has seen it,” the Catholic Church leader who started his Episcopal Ministry in March 2019 as Bishop of Torit Diocese said.

On his part, South Sudan’s Vice President for Economic Cluster, who represented President Salva Kiir Mayardit at the JIA reception of the new Cardinal said, “We are very happy; as South Sudanese, we will walk with our heads high because it is the first time for South Sudan to have a Cardinal since we became a country.”

Credit: ACI Africa

“As the government, we will stand with the Cardinal 100% and other Churches,” James Wani Igga said, and added, “Thank you so much our civilians for the warm reception of our Cardinal Stephen Ameyu.”

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.