SOUTH SUDAN Pope Francis from Juba: enough conflicts, it’s time to build

The Pontiff arrived in South Sudan, the second leg of his apostolic journey to Africa. Along with the Anglican primate and the moderator of the Church of Scotland, he will make a peace pilgrimage these days to give voice to the cry of another people torn by civil war. The warning to the authorities: “These people need parents, not bosses.” The memory of the murdered missionaries who “find death sowing life”.

Juba () – “Let us leave behind the times of war and let the times of peace emerge”. From South Sudan, the second leg of his apostolic journey to Africa and another land torn by a painful civil war, Pope Francis this afternoon delivered a new and energetic call to put an end to the conflicts that are currently troubling the world. He did so with a sign that will characterize the three days he will spend in this young African country, independent since 2011 but still torn by violence in recent years: his presence alongside the pontiff, Anglican primate Justin Welby and the moderator of the Church of Scotland, Pastor Iain Greenshields. Together, pilgrims of peace, on an ecumenical journey in another country with a Christian majority and yet bloodstained by a war that, despite the mediation in which Francis personally intervened in recent years, continues to struggle to be resolved. .

“I did not come here alone”, explained the Pontiff in Juba, “because in peace, as in life, we walk together”. We stand before you and this people in the name of Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace.” Together, the Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Pastor of the Church of Scotland, before the authorities gathered in the garden of the presidential palace with the president Salva Kiir Mayardit (with whom Francis had a long conversation behind closed doors as soon as he arrived in Juba) and Vice President Riek Machar -the two main protagonists of this conflict- gave voice to the “cry of an entire people who, with great dignity, cry because of the violence he suffers, because of the perennial lack of security, because of the poverty that affects him and because of the natural catastrophes that devastate him”.

“The children of South Sudan need parents,” the Pope admonished, “not bosses; they need stable steps of development, not continuous falls.” “May the years following the birth of the country, marked by a wounded childhood, give way to peaceful growth.” He recalls the clear word of Jesus in Gethsemane when he confronted one of his disciples who had drawn his sword: “Enough” (Lk 22,51). He invokes her “without ‘if’ and without ‘but'”. “No more bloodshed,” he explains, “no more conflict, no more violence and mutual accusations against those who commit it, no more leaving people thirsty for peace. No more destruction, it’s time to build.”

With a warning that should also sound the same to many other countries on all continents, the Pope in Juba recalls the full meaning of calling oneself res publica, as South Sudan did when it proclaimed its independence in 2011. “It is not enough to call itself a republic, it is necessary to be one, starting with primary goods: the abundant resources with which God blessed this land should not be reserved for a few, but be patrimony everyone, and economic recovery plans must be accompanied by projects for the equitable distribution of wealth”. And then democracy, which presupposes “respect for human rights, protected by law and its application, and in particular the freedom to express one’s ideas. Indeed, it must be remembered that without justice there is no peace, but also that without freedom there is no justice”.

He asked them to turn the page: “The peace and reconciliation process requires a new shakeup.” May this ecumenical pilgrimage, which in today’s world “constitutes a rarity, represent a change of pace, an opportunity for South Sudan to once again sail on calm waters, resuming dialogue, without duplication or opportunism.” He pointed out the path of the meeting beyond “the unhealed memory of wounds, humiliations and grievances”, “welcoming others as brothers and giving them space, even knowing how to take a step back”. And he asked that attention be focused on young people and women.

Recalling the first missionaries who arrived on the Nile, he invited us to turn our gaze towards those who “unfortunately find death while sowing life. Let us not forget them, and let us not forget to guarantee them and the humanitarian workers the necessary security, and their good works the necessary support, so that the river of good continues to flow”.

But the great river can also overflow its banks, causing disasters like those that recently occurred in these areas. “Natural catastrophes tell us about a wounded and shattered creation,” he comments, “that can go from being a source of life to a threat of death. It is necessary to care for it, with a far-sighted eye towards future generations. I think, in particular, in the need to fight against deforestation caused by the greed for profit”. He again pointed out the commitment to fight against corruption, “which means that there is a lack of resources for what is most needed, starting with the fight against poverty and helping the millions of displaced people who live here.” He asked that the entry of weapons be stopped: “many things are needed here, but certainly not more instruments of death.”

“I know that some of my expressions may have been frank and direct – concludes the Pontiff – but I beg you to know that this comes only from the affection and concern with which I follow your affairs, together with the brothers with whom I came here, pilgrim We wish to wholeheartedly offer our prayers and support that South Sudan may reconcile and change course, so that its course of life is no longer hampered by the barrage of violence, bogged down by the swamps of corruption and frustrated by the overflow of poverty”.

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Written by Editor TLN

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