The many challenges facing South Sudan
Before a leg injury forced him to postpone travel, Pope Francis was scheduled to make an ecumenical “pilgrimage of peace” to South Sudan. He would have been joined by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Rev. Jim Wallace, moderator of the Church of Scotland.
Together, the three faith leaders were hoping to build on the momentum established back in 2019, when Francis and Welby hosted South Sudanese political leaders for a spiritual retreat at the Vatican. That event—in particular the poignant moment when Francis bowed to kiss the feet of each attendee—marked a turning point for the troubled African country, where civil war had been raging for six years. Not long after their visit to Rome, on February 22, 2020, President Salva Kiir and First Vice President Riek Machar, the opposition leader, announced the end of hostilities. It was an extraordinary development: while the South Sudanese peace process has been sluggish, and sporadic fighting has continued, this previously unthinkable display of unity signaled real progress.
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