“Pope Francis has repeatedly expressed his constant concern for the plight of the South Sudanese people, and over the years has launched several appeals for peace in the country…” Many of these initiatives are cited in a recent article published in the Vatican News, “An Overview of the Church in South Sudan.”
Now, Pope Francis is embarking on an ecumenical pilgrimage to South Sudan with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland (Presbyterian). These three denominations comprise most of the Christians in the country. South Sudan is well known for its ecumenical activities, and all faiths come together in the South Sudan Council of Churches to work for peace in this, the newest country in the world, but one engulfed by ethnic violence and ravaged by flooding.
“The Church (Catholic) has been promoting reconciliation also through projects at grassroot level aimed at training South Sudanese citizens on the issues of peace and healing…” (Solidarity with South Sudan has spearheaded initiatives in trauma healing.)
“The local Church, supported by several foreign Catholic charities and agencies, is actively involved in promoting human development, which is a key factor for peace. Widespread poverty, increased by climate change, lack of education and job opportunities for young people, and the scourge of child soldiers, contribute to hinder a long-lasting peace in the country….”
And, as cited in the Vatican article mentioned above:
“In 2008, at the request of the Sudanese Bishops’ Conference, the International Union of Superiors General (UISG), and the Union of Superiors General (USG), launched the “Solidarity with South Sudan Project,” which between 2008 and 2018, succeeded in training 475 primary school teachers, 190 nurses and midwives, over 1,000 farmers, and more than 1,500 pastoral agents with the support of 260 congregations, private donors and international agencies. Working closely with the local Church, the project runs a teacher training college, a health training institute, a sustainable farm with an outreach programme, and pastoral services.”
As the people of South Sudan prepare for the arrival of this ecumenical delegation, many walking to Juba from a distant diocese, let us join them in prayer. A special prayer service, “Rejoicing in Hope,” will take place in Rome at 11:30 a.m. Eastern on Jan. 30, 2023. We are sharing a copy of the prayer service for your use with family, friends and community. We pray that all who are travelling to Juba will be safe, and that this pilgrimage will reinvigorate the movement for peace in this war-ravaged country.
FYI – Sister Mumbi Kigutha, CPPS, the new president of Friends in Solidarity, will be in attendance at the welcome ceremony for Pope Francis on Friday, Feb. 3 in Juba. Sister Mumbi assumes the presidency of Friends in Solidarity on Feb. 1. She will be in South Sudan for three weeks, visiting the ministries of Solidarity with South Sudan.
Sister Joan Mumaw, IHM
President, Friends in Solidarity
Above: The Catholic Diocese of Rumbek has organized a “walking for peace” pilgrimage. Participants are walking for nine days (350 kilometers/217 miles) from Rumbek to Juba to welcome the ecumenical delegation. Photo credit: Fr. Eric Wanyonyi Simiyu, SJ/Rumbek | ACI Africa