April 2019: Pope's powerful gesture to promote peace in South Sudan

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April was marked by this unforgettable moment, when Pope Francis kissed the feet of the political opponents of South Sudan. It was to beg for peace in their country. 

Both participated in a spiritual retreat at Casa Santa Marta. The driving force behind the initiative was the primate of the Anglican Church, Archbishop Justin Welby, a respected figure in the African country. Together with the Vatican, he managed to bring to Rome those responsible for the civil war that began in 2013. The victims of this conflict number more than 180,000. 

During the meeting Pope Francis implored them to put an end to more than 5 years of savage war.

“I ask you as a brother: keep the peace. I ask you with my heart.”

April was a month especially dedicated to young people. It began with the publication of the post-synodal apostolic exhortation of Pope Francis' “Christus vivit.”

Unsecretary, Synod of Bishops
“[They are] concrete themes specific to young people. The digital world, the world where they live, the family and the relationship of dialogue needed within it, especially with the elderly.”

During April, the pope dedicated many meetings to young people and shared with them very personal reflections such as in this parish.

“I've had so many doubts, many, so many. In the face of calamities, but also in other moments in my life. How did I manage to get out? I think I didn't get out of it alone. You can never get out of doubt alone. One needs the company of somebody to help them move forward.”

April was also the month of Holy Week. During the Way of the Cross, Pope Francis lamented the evils of the modern world, including the drama of sexual abuse.

“Lord Jesus, help us to see on Your Cross all the crosses of the world. The cross of the little ones, wounded in their innocence and purity.”

The problem of sexual abuse was further stressed through an essay published by Pope Emeritus, in the German magazine Klerusblatt. It was his contribution to the Vatican's summit on the protection of minors held in February. He consulted Pope Francis before its publication.

In the 18-page text he reflects on the negative consequences the cultural climate of the late 1960s had on society and the Church.

The document was published a few days before his birthday. Pope Emeritus turned 92 on April 16 and was visited by his successor. The celebrations were more discreet than when he turned 90, which being a more rounded date, allowed him to toast to the open with the best of the beer from his native Bavaria.

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