Vatican City, Apr 11, 2019 / 11:01 am
Pope Francis Thursday told the formerly warring leaders of South Sudan that peace is possible in their fledgling country through the power of Christ’s resurrection.
“Your people today are yearning for a better future, which can only come about through reconciliation and peace,” he said at the conclusion of a “spiritual retreat” for the South Sudanese leaders in Vatican City April 11.
“We Christians believe and know that peace is possible, for Christ is risen. He has overcome evil with good. He has assured his disciples of the victory of peace over everything that fans the flames of war: pride, greed, the lust for power, self-interest, lies and hypocrisy,” Francis said.
The Vatican retreat brought together the South Sudanese president Salva Kiir Mayardit and opposition leader Riek Machar following a five-year civil war that took the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.
Kiir and Machar signed a tenuous peace agreement in September 2018, which the country’s Catholic bishops have called “fatally flawed” because it does not address the root causes of the conflict.
In February, Voice of America reported that clashes between the South Sudanese army and the National Salvation Front, a rebel group, had displaced 8,000 civilians from Yei state. The National Salvation Front had not signed the September 2018 peace accord.
Pope Francis encouraged the South Sudanese leaders to “seek what unites you, beginning with the fact that you belong to one and the same people, and to overcome all that divides you.”
He challenged the leaders to consider their responsibility before God to serve their people.