South Sudanese bishop: Pope Francis is ready to visit us
The South Sudan Council of Churches held a private encounter with Pope Francis to update him on the situation in the country, as well as their ecumenical mission.
The pope expressed his gratitude for their work and gave them a message of inspiration.
“Help us to understand. Be happy, and go about with all sufferance.”
As a gesture of ecumenism, the Holy Father kissed the hands of leaders from other churches.
There is also the possibility of a papal visit in the future, as the council assures Pope Francis views it as a priority.
BISHOP PARIDE TABAN
Bishop Emeritus of Torit (South Sudan)
“Now, also, is the time. We are encouraging the pope to come, and the pope says, 'I'm ready to come. My heart is bleeding for the suffering of the people of South Sudan.' He's very supportive and positive and he encourages us not to fear.”
The meeting was organized by the Community of Sant'Egidio, whom the council has asked to assist in peacebuilding efforts. As the organization has been closely following the country's development even before its independence, it's well aware of Christianity's important role throughout the nation.
Head of International Relations, Community of Sant'Egidio
“All of them, all the confessions and denominations, are an unavoidable source of knowledge for the country, because they are everywhere... in every state, in every city, in every village. They are close to the people; they stand by the people.”
Conflict in South Sudan remains a humanitarian crisis, as the violence has caused food scarcity and the internal displacement of millions. Pope Francis has frequently called for a resolution, even declaring an international day of prayer and fasting for the country in late February.