Pope Francis is coming to listen to the sufferings of the people of South Sudan when he visits the East-African nation next week alongside the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, Iain Greenshields, a Catholic Bishop has said.
Addressing a group of Christians at St. Joseph’s Parish of Juba Archdiocese Tuesday, January 24, Bishop Emmanuel Bernardino Lowi Napeta said the ecumenical visit is expected to address the causes of war and sufferings in the country.
“Pope Francis is coming to listen to the sufferings of our people and bless us because of what we have been going through all this time,” Bishop Napeta said, and added, “The historical visit of the Holy Father in South Sudan is very important because it’s something that the people didn’t expect to happen.”
“This visit is going to be a historical event in our churches and the country because it’s the first time the country is going to be blessed by a great man of God,” the 49-year-old Catholic Bishop who was Consecrated Bishop of Torit on January 15 said.
He further said, “This is why God is able to protect and bless us to see the Pope.”
“We have to prepare ourselves for the event,” the South Sudanese Catholic Bishop said, and added, “Some of us are lucky that we will be attending Holy Mass with the Holy Father.”
He continued, “It’s really a great chance for us to be there together to receive blessings from our religious leaders.”
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 December 1 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.”
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 January 24 address, Bishop Napeta said, “The Holy Father is coming to help end conflict and suffering and to help the people of this country in order to stay together.”
The Local Ordinary of Torit Diocese further called on South Sudanese to be strong in faith and determination as “we wait for the visit to our country.”
“You should continue with this togetherness. I know there are differences among you but we should keep building togetherness as children of God,” he said.
He further called on the People of God in the country to keep “everything that will be given for you during the Pope’s visit very well.”
“You will not keep it well unless you have faith in what you are given,” the South Sudanese Catholic Bishop said, and emphasized the need “to keep praying that the programs would be successful.”
“Through the prayers, God will hear us as we wait for the historical event to happen in our country,” Bishop Napeta said January 24.