Earlier this month, Pope Francis became the first pope — indeed, the first Western leader — to visit South Sudan. Amid an enthusiastic welcome, more than 100,000 people attended his papal Mass Feb. 5 in the capital city of Juba, during which the pope made an impassioned plea for peace in the war-torn nation.
Days after interacting with Pope Francis, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in South Sudan have said the encounter gave them “courage to hope for peace” in their country.
“We thought we were just going to go and see the pope. But actually it has turned in to something life-changing for all of us who have taken part in it,” Sr. Orla Treacy said.
At a Mass in South Sudan on Sunday, Pope Francis urged Christians in the war-torn African country to make “a decisive contribution to changing history” by refusing to repay evil with evil.
Pope Francis was greeted by cheers and ululations on Saturday as he arrived at a meeting with roughly 2,500 South Sudanese refugees.
Pope Francis held a moment of silence Saturday for priests and religious who have been killed in South Sudan.
On the first day of his peace pilgrimage, Pope Francis begged the leaders of South Sudan to work together to put an end to bloody conflict in their country.
The pope has called his Feb. 3-5 visit to Juba, South Sudan’s capital, a “pilgrimage of peace.”
Pope Francis, as part of his visit to Africa this week, is meeting with the president of South Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit, this Friday. He will meet the leader for a photograph before retreating to a private setting for a talk.
Before departing on his flight to Africa on Tuesday morning, Pope Francis met with a group of refugees and migrants from the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan at the Vatican.