The Vatican congratulated South Sudan, the world's newest country, for its admission to the United Nations on July 14.
In a statement greeting representatives of the new country, the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations said that Pope Benedict XVI “invoked the Almighty’s abundant blessings on the people and the government of the new nation and wished that is may advance in the path of peace freedom and development.”
“The path from civil war to democracy needs to be well disciplined and based on justice and truth,” the Vatican's permanent U.N. mission said in its remarks to the South Sudanese. The Vatican delegation was led by Archbishop Francis Chullikatt.
If these values prevail, they said, “the long journey that has cost the lives of people, long sufferings, poverty and humiliations can become a walk of peace, liberty and development.”
South Sudan became independent on July 9, an achievement that followed two decades of struggle which killed or displaced over six million people.
The Vatican representatives also stated that forgiveness and national reconciliation are “essential for durable peace” for the republic and the region.
“The most urgent need of the new state,” they noted, “is settling the refugees, migrants and internally displaced citizens moving from other parts of the country, estimated to be around 300,000.”
Church organizations such as Misereor and Caritas are currently providing humanitarian aid among these populations.
The Vatican representatives indicated that the Church would play a “vital” role in establishing a sustainable peace for the new republic. The country faces a lack of development and still needs to work out border and migration issues with northern Sudan.
In his own remarks to the South Sudanese representatives, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the country should deal with these issues “as soon as possible.”
“It is imperative that you resolve outstanding differences with the same pragmatism and leadership that you have each shown so far,” Ki-moon said. “South and North share a common destiny — they must see a future as true partners, not rivals.”
Ki-moon promised the help of the United Nations, the African Union and international non-governmental organizations in fostering a healthy relationship between the separated countries.
This international commitment to help the new republic “will be essential” to peace, justice and opportunity, the secretary general said.