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Pope Francis at ecumenical prayer in South Sudan: "A Christian always chooses peace"

The ecumenical prayer for peace in South Sudan began with this song. The service was held at the John Garang Mausoleum, where the leader of South Sudan People's Liberation Movement from 1983 to 2005 is buried.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, touched on the connection between peace and being a Christian.

Being a Christian draws us into the fellowship of believers. It does not matter that we're from different countries, different tribes, different churches. My dear brothers, Pope Francis and Moderator Iain, we are here as your family.

The Archbishop also spoke of respecting the dignity of women and he praised them for their work in providing for their families in spite of difficulties.

The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Iain Greenshields, said that the different churches and their members should be united as they were before in South Sudan.

In this country, there is a strong legacy of churches working together for peace and reconciliation. They played a key role in the nation achieving independence peacefully.

In his speech, Pope Francis recalled the passage in the Bible where Moses leaves Egypt with the Israelites and they are pursued by dogs and horse-drawn chariots. But they were not afraid because God had promised them freedom. He said that for the South Sudanese people that promised land is a time of peace.

The Pope explained that for God, peace is not just the absence of conflict but rather fraternal communion. He insisted that forgiving one another will help de-escalate the war and also on walking together for peace in the footsteps of their ancestors. Pope Francis stressed the importance of choosing peace above all else.

Those who follow Christ always choose peace. Those who unleash war and violence betray the Lord and deny His Gospel.
"That you love one another as I have loved you." This is Jesus' commandment, which contradicts every tribal view of religion.

At the end of the prayer meeting, Pope Francis exchanged farewells with Archbishop Welby and Moderator Greenshields before leaving in his wheelchair, accompanied by the same choir that welcomed him.