Speed Reads

A Papal Visit

Pope appeals for peace in final leg of African pilgrimage

Pope Francis appealed for peace in South Sudan on Sunday while on the last leg of his high-profile African pilgrimage, in a rare foray to the continent for the religious leader. 

The Associated Press reported that Francis spoke before an estimated crowd of 100,000 during a Mass in the South Sudanese capital of Juba. He implored the people of South Sudan to stop the years-long bought of violence that has befallen the country. 

"Even if our hearts bleed for the wrongs we have suffered, let us refuse, once and for all, to repay evil with evil," Francis said, per AP. "Let us accept one another and love one another with sincerity and generosity, as God loves us."

The trip to South Sudan marked the last length of the journey to Africa for Francis, where he also visited the Democratic Republic of Congo. He was joined in South Sudan by two other religious leaders: Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and the moderator of the Church of Scotland, Iain Greenshields. 

South Sudan is the world's youngest country, having only gained independence in 2011, and the nation has been besieged by civil war and bloody conflicts since its founding. While President Salva Kiir reached a peace deal with opposition leaders in 2018, AP noted that the tenants of that agreement "remain largely unimplemented and fighting has continued to flare."

The goal of the three religious leaders was to try and get Kiir and the opposition to re-engage in peace talks. 

"The fact that the three Churches united for the sake of South Sudan, this is the turning point for peace," worshipper Jesilen Gaba told Reutersadding that she wanted the visit "to be a blessing to us. We have been at war, we have lost many people."