National, News

Cardinal Ameyu lands to glamorous welcome

By Charles K Mark/Bida Elly David


Thousands of catholic faithful, government officials and other people from all walks of life braved scotching sun heat to Juba International Airport Monday morning to receive the first-ever cardinal for South Sudan.

October 30, 2023, will go down in history in the Catholic Church of South Sudan as the very day the young East African country’s first-ever enthroned cardinal, His Eminence Dr. Stephen Ameyu Martin Mulla, touched home soil with the new blessing from the holy Vatican City, in Rome.

Congregants lined up from Juba International Airport along the street leading up to St. Theresa Cathedral Parish Kator, holding placards and banners bearing Cardinal Ameyu’s pictures and messages of welcome, as the choir sang songs of joy and welcome at the airport.

Thousands of faithful who lined up on the streets to welcome His Eminence Ameyu praised the Vatican for blessing South Sudan with a Cardinal.

Bishop Ameyu was among 21 bishops elevated to cardinals in a convocation conducted on September 30, 2023, in Rome. He also attended the synod.

One faithful, Siama Dennis Mogga, who joined the jubilant crowds, expressed happiness at seeing the first-ever Cardinal South Sudan has got.

“I am very happy today because of the blessing God has given us by offering us a cardinal. This to us means peace, and we pray it should be this way,” Siama expressed her joy.

The grand reception of Cardinal Ameyu was graced by His Eminence, Cardinal Gabriel Zubeir Wako, of Sudan, and also attended by top government dignitaries, among which was the vice president for economic cluster, Dr. James Wani Igga.

Another jubilant faithful, Peter Lado, said for the whole of his life, the Cardinal he has best known was His Eminence Zubeir Wako, but now he feels South Sudan is blessed with Cardinal Stephen Ameyu.

“Since I was born, it is my first time to see South Sudan having a Cardinal of our own. This is a miracle that God has made, and I pray that this blessing brings peace,” said Lado.

Agent of peace

Cardinal Ameyu, and different political leaders at Juba International Airport (Photo Charles K. Mark)

Meanwhile, Cardinal Ameyu’s colorful home welcome was also attended by joyous members from different faiths and denominations, including the Anglicans and Muslims.

One faithful, Magdalena Thiato Atiole, who didn’t disclose her denomination, said the cardinal for South Sudan would bring peace.

“To the church, he is a cardinal, but we see the light of unity as a blessing that God has given to us,” Atiole said.

She urged South Sudanese to embrace peace for more of such blessings to continue manifesting.

Meanwhile, government representatives at the reception of Cardinal Stephen Ameyu Martin referred to him as an agent of peace in South Sudan.

James Wani Igga, vice president for economic cluster, praised the papal decision to appoint Cardinal Ameyu as miraculous and divine.

“It is for the first time for South Sudanese to turn up in greater numbers to receive, a religious leader, so that means people are united and peaceful,” he said.

“Now South Sudanese should walk with their heads up (Pride) because it is for the first time in the Sudanese history that South Sudan is having a Cardinal.”

VP James stated that the incarnation of Ameyu into Cardinalship will alleviate the heavy burden on His eminence Gabriel Zubeir Wako.

For his part, Emmanuel Adil Anthony, the governor of Central Equatoria State, described Cardinal Ameyu’s Vatican seat as a key factor in enhancing South Sudan’s global recognition.

We have been waiting for this, Ameyu’s elevation is a demonstration that faith has grown in South Sudan and will continue growing across the nation,’’ he said.

“Your elevation came while we are in peace and indeed you are a man of peace as our President Salva Kiir and his colleague signed peace,” Adil underscored.

He urged South Sudanese to maintain peace for more blessings, akin to the blessings God bestowed upon the golden Cardinal.

Josephine Napwon Cosmas, the national minister of environment and forestry, praised the cardinal’s arrival as a significant and joyful event for South Sudanese, especially Christians.

“We as Christians in South Sudan especially the Catholic faith are very happy that one of our sons is recognized worldwide to be a Cardinal,” Josephine said.

“We are so grateful as government to have our son back, he is indeed an agent of peace, and actually God loves him and South Sudan at large,’’ she echoed.

The church played a greater role in restoring peace in South Sudan.

At different levels, church leaders engage in diplomacy, preventing conflicts from escalating, promoting reconciliation processes in different locations, and easing tensions between political leaders.

For example, in 2019 their efforts led to a remarkable meeting of political and church leaders in the Vatican, where the Pope kissed the feet of the antagonistic leaders.

This meeting was critical as it kept the political leaders talking and engaging in the Addis Ababa peace process.

Despite the hitches, the church is also pushing dialogue between the South Sudan government and the holdout groups in South Sudan.

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