Pope Francis kisses Sudan's leaders feet for peace

Lester Mason
April 14, 2019

He urged the president, Salva Kiir and his former deputy, Reik Machar to end the animosity between them and honor the agreements that have already been signed and let peace reign in the country.

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.

South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011 but had been gripped by a bloody civil war since 2013 until a peace deal was finally signed in September of past year. There will be many problems but they will not overcome us.

Addressing the South Sudanese leaders in his residence, the pope said: "There will be struggles, disagreements among you but keep them within you, inside the office, so to speak, but in front of the people, hold hands united".

The pope kissed Kiir and Machar's feet, as well as those of Kiir's three vice presidents. "Tears were flowing from my eyes", she said.

The retreat was the idea of Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury, spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion, who attended the final part of the gathering. "However, there will be little expectation that it will yield any real progress absent external pressure or an unforeseen change", Klem Ryan, former coordinator of the U.N. Security Council Panel of Experts for South Sudan, told Reuters.

The 82-year-old pope pleaded for peace in a striking gesture during a meeting with leaders from the troubled country that gained independence from neighbouring Sudan in 2011 and then was mired in a violent internal conflict.

"Upon all the Christians of South Sudan who, in helping those in greatest need, bind up the wounds of Jesus' body, I implore God's abundant graces and assure them of a constant remembrance in my prayers", Pope Francis said. "So, as simple citizens, you will become fathers of the nation." .

"Peace is possible", the pope told the leaders.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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