Pope calls on leaders to lay arms down forge path for peace

The head of the Rome Catholic Church, Pontiff Francis (Photo: Courtesy) 

By William Madouk Garang

Pope Francis has called on leaders and people of South Sudan and Congo to put guns down ‘turn a page’ and a blaze new path for reconciliation, peace and progress.

The Pontiff made this remark on Saturday in a video message issued on the day he planned to begin a weeklong pilgrimage tour to the two restive African countries.

 Holy Father, Francis was supposed to personally visit Juba and Congo between July 2 and 7 but the trip was postponed due a knee ailment that has confined him to a wheelchair.

In an audiovisual message, Francis urged people of both countries not to be robbed of hope despite the violence, political instability, exploitation and poverty that had affected them for long.

“You have a great mission, all of you, beginning with your political leaders: It is that of turning a page in order to blaze new trails, new paths of reconciliation and forgiveness, of serene coexistence and of development,” Francis stated.

He said political leaders are indebted to fulfill young people’s quest for peace by putting guns down to allow people see those dreams they deserve come true.

“For their sake, above all, it is necessary to lay down arms, to overcome all resentment, and to write new pages of fraternity,” the pope added.

Pontiff, Francis also said he was “greatly disappointed” by the turn of events and promised to visit “as soon as possible.”

According to Fr Kiri, Vicar, general Catholic Archdiocese of Juba although Pope will not come, he picked his deputy, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who will visit both Congo and South Sudan on his behalf.

However, it was not clear whether papal delegates led by Parolin will meet with political leaders and Internally Displaced Person as was to be the case with the Pope.

Cardinal Parolin also doubled up as the Vatican’s Secretary of state since October 2013. He has also served as a member of the Council of Cardinals Advisers since July 2014.

Parolin was perhaps selected by the Vatican because of his vast experience in African affairs. He has previously served in the diplomatic service of the Holy See for 30 years, including terms in Nigeria, Mexico and Venezuela.

Parolin was ordained on 27 April 1980 by Arnoldo Onisto and later consecrated in 1990 by Pope Benedict XVI.

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