South Sudanese have been urged to profit from the planned visit of Pope Francis to their country to get reconciled with one another.
Speaking at a January 12 preparatory meeting ahead of the ecumenical visit, Bishop Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala reflected on the February 3-5 trip that the Holy Father is to undertake alongside the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, Iain Greenshields.
“Now that the Holy Father and other religious leaders are coming to visit us in South Sudan, let's take advantage of the visit to be reconciled and be united to make peace reign in South Sudan,” Bishop Hiiboro said during the meeting that was held at the Sudan Catholic Bishops Conference (SCBC) Secretariat in Juba.
He added, “We are very happy and excited to receive him with all our hearts because we are spiritually set to welcome them because they are coming with the messages of peace and hope for us.”
The Local Ordinary of the Catholic Diocese of Tombura-Yambio (CDTY) in South Sudan called upon the people of God in South Sudan to “continue with preparations to welcome the Holy Father.”
“We need to be prepared as the people of South Sudan because this is something we have been waiting for long,” Bishop Hiiboro said.
The South Sudanese Catholic Bishop added, “South Sudanese are ready to welcome the Holy Father with the little they can afford though the preparation may not be visible to the level that other countries might do to welcome the Pope.”
He went on to thank those who are contributing towards the success of the ecumenical visit, saying, “We are so grateful to the government, friends, and partners as well as Christians and the Holy See for putting whatever they have at our disposal for this preparation.”
“Their support for this important event is very vital because it would not be possible without their contribution,” the Catholic Bishop who has been at the helm of CDTY since his Episcopal Ordination in June 2008 said.
He implored, “May God help those who are supporting us with prayers to make sure the Church gets whatever they have to support the event.”
“We will continue to pray that God helps our Christian communities to support us with the preparation for the reception of these great men of God,” Bishop Hiiboro said.
He called upon South Sudanese to “get their houses in order by having reconciliation and peace which will clean their hearts from whatever they are doing to themselves.”
“Wherever we work we should keep them clean because something good is soon happening in our country,” the South Sudanese Bishop said.
Pope Francis is set to realize his previously postponed trip to two African countries from January 31, according to the program and itinerary that the officials of the Holy See Press office unveiled last month.
The 1 December 2022 Vatican statement provided details of the “Apostolic Journey of His Holiness Francis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and in South Sudan (Ecumenical Pilgrimage of Peace in South Sudan) from 31 January to 5 February 2023.
The Holy Father’s pastoral trip that had been planned for July last year was postponed in June “at the request of his doctors, and in order not to jeopardize the results of the therapy that he is undergoing for his knee,” the Holy See Press Office Director, Matteo Bruni, stated in his 10 June 2022 statement.
Like the itinerary in the postponed visit, the January 31 – February 5 two-African-nation trip has now been scheduled to begin in the capital city of DRC, Kinshasa, and conclude in South Sudan’s capital city, Juba, where the Holy Father alongside Archbishop Welby and Rev. Greenshields are to preside over ecumenical prayer.
In his address during the January 12 preparatory meeting, Bishop Hiiboro called on South Sudanese “to pray for this important visit of the Holy Father because the ecumenical visit means a lot to the people of South Sudan who are going through difficult times.”