- Pope Francis shakes hands with President Salva Kiir at the Vatican on March 16, 2019 (The Vatican photo)
July 9, 2021 (ROME) – Pope Francis has appealed to South Sudanese to redouble their efforts by making “personal sacrifice” for the sake of peace in the world’s newest nation.
The appeal is contained in a joint letter issued as South Sudan marked its 10th independence anniversary on Friday this week.
The July 9 letter signed by the Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby and Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Reverend Martin Fair, congratulated South Sudan, saying the milestone anniversary “calls to mind your past struggles and points with hope to the future.”
“Your nation is blessed with immense potential, and we encourage you to make even greater efforts to enable your people to enjoy the full fruits of independence,” states the letter.
This letter follows a similar note sent to South Sudanese leaders by the three faith leaders just before Christmas 2020, in which they urged leaders to exert more effort in the quest for peace and reminding them of their commitment to achieve peace.
Referring to the Christmas letter, Francis, Welby, and Fair noted that on that occasion, they had voiced hope that South Sudan’s leaders would “experience greater trust among yourselves and be more generous in service to your people.”
“Since then, we have been glad to see some small progress,” it noted, adding “Sadly, your people continue to live in fear and uncertainty, and lack confidence that their nation can indeed deliver the ‘justice, liberty and prosperity’ celebrated in your national anthem.”
The religious leaders said more needs to be done in South Sudan to shape a nation that reflects God’s kingdom, in which the dignity of all is respected and all are reconciled.
“This may require personal sacrifice from you as leaders,” they stressed.
South Sudan gained independence in 2011. In 2013, political difference within the country’s ruling party (SPLM) triggered a civil war in which an estimated 400,000 people died. In September 2018, a peace deal signed by the country’s warring parties led to the formation of a coalition government.