By William Madouk
The head of Catholic Church, His Holiness Pope Francis has urged the parties to the agreement to stop bloodshed and leave behind the dark times of war and turn new leaf for peace and reconciliations.
Addressing the government officials, Civil Society and Diplomatic Corps at the Presidential Palace on Friday, shortly after his arrival in Juba, the Pope echoed that he has come “as a pilgrim of reconciliation.”
“No more bloodshed, no more conflicts, no more violence and mutual recriminations about who is responsible for it, no more leaving your people athirst for peace,” Pope Francis said.
The Holy Father recapped to the leaders “that those “sons and daughters”, and history itself, will remember if you work for the benefit of this people that you have been called to serve.”
“Future generations will either venerate your names or cancel their memory, based on what you now do,” he added.
He expressed his hope that the protracted suffering of the people is not in vain, that their patience and sacrifices challenge everyone and, “allow peace to blossom and bear fruit.”
“The process of peace and reconciliation requires a new start,” the 86-year-old pontiff said.
The Pope informed the leaders to see themselves as truly “public”, “of the people”. Those who are entrusted with the responsibility of presiding over and governing the state, he explained, “have the duty to place themselves at the service of the common good.”
The Pope decried the fact that the “years of war and conflict seem never to end,” and noted that, “even yesterday” lives were lost in bitter clashes.
“At the same time, the process of reconciliation seems stagnant and the promise of peace unfulfilled.” He stressed.
Kiir signals green light for Rome talks
For his part, President Salva Kiir Mayardit promised to work closely with his deputies to consolidate peace in the country and officially revived Rome peace talk with holdout groups.
“In honor of the Holy Father Pope Francis historic visit to our Country, and our declaration of 2023 as the year of peace and reconciliation, I am officially announcing the lifting of the suspension of the Rome peace talks with the holdout groups” Kiir said.
“I hope that my brothers from the non-Signatories South Sudan opposition Group will reciprocate this gesture and engage with us honesty to achieve an inclusive peace in our Country” he continued.
President Kiir said he sincerely hopes that their push for peace and reconciliation will be helped by the Ecumenical pilgrimage to the Republic of South Sudan by the Holy Father, Pope Francis, Archbishop Dr. Justin Welby and the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Dr. Iain Greenshields.
“I would like to once again thank your Holiness pope Francis and your delegation for blessing our Country with this Pilgrimage. I would also heartily thank the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland for ecumenical solidarity they have shown to our country’ he said.
Kiir is hopeful that their interaction with the three world church leaders in the next two days will give energy and blessing that will push them (-South Sudan leaders) over the line on their journey for peaceful and prosperous South Sudan.
In April 2019, His Holiness Pope Francis kissed the feet of South Sudan warring political leaders and asked them to remain in peace during a spiritual retreat to the Vatican. Kiir said “the rare gesture of humility did not go in vain”.