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Citizens call on political leaders to heed Pope’s message of ending bloodshed

Some citizens on Sunday called on political leaders to heed Pope Francis’s advice of ending violence across the country.

“I want our leaders to implement peace and reconcile the people, and that is all I need so that people may live in peace in South Sudan,” Elizabeth Mayak Thomas told The Juba Echo after attending holy mass led by Pope Francis at the Dr. John Garang Mausoleum in Juba on Sunday.

Pope Francis during meeting with Internally Displaced Persons at Freedom Hall on Saturday, 4th February 2023 [Photo by Awan Achiek]

Samuel Chor, a 28-year-old, Choir Master at Emmanuel Parish urged the youth to desist from fueling violence in the country.

“When they (political leaders) have a disagreement, it is time for us to tell them your disagreement should remain in the offices and we should not get involved in their disagreement,” said Chor.

“We youth should not take up arms again when politicians disagree, they should disagree in their offices and if they come to us on the ground we should not accept to be part of their disagreement,” he added.

Pope Francis together with the head of the Anglican church of England, Dr. Justin Welby, and the head of the Presbyterian church of Scotland, Dr. Iain Greenshields made peace and reconciliation the theme of their three-day trip to the country.

The pope asked political leaders to shun the “blind fury of violence” and called for end to tribalism, and bloodshed.

The 86-year-old pontiff has made several visits to Africa since becoming Pope in 2013, but this is his first visit to South Sudan.

The pope has had a long-standing interest in South Sudan. In one of the most remarkable gestures of his papacy, he knelt to kiss the feet of the country’s previously warring leaders during a meeting at the Vatican in 2019.

The “pilgrimage of peace” to DR Congo and South Sudan was the first time in Christian history that leaders of the Catholic, Anglican, and Reformed traditions conducted a joint foreign visit.

People pray as Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the John Garang Mausoleum in Juba [Photo by Awan Achiek] 

“The message they left us is the message of progress, the message of going ahead, and the message of learning from our sister Josephine Bakhita,” Yar Manor Majok, a business woman said.

“That lady who suffered enough in her life and she became a slave and now she becomes a saint, and he (Pope) wants us to learn from that message,” she added.

 Imma Lasu, a 50-year-old urged political leaders to carry out the message of peace brought by Pope Francis.

“I expect that the holy spirit will change the heart of our leaders in South Sudan and bring peace in the whole of South Sudan, so that our refugees and displaced will also enjoy perfect life in this country of South Sudan,” said Lasu.

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