The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby hailed the resilience shown by many South Sudanese women in the face of sexual-related violence in the country.
“I know that on top of the grief of conflict and the responsibility to provide for your families, many of you live with the trauma of sexual violence and the daily fear of mistreatment even in your own homes. Yet you are incredible women of strength,” Welby said while addressing tens of thousands of people at an ecumenical prayer vigil in Juba over the weekend.
He was accompanied by Pope Francis and Moderator of the Church of Scotland, Iain Greenshields.
The three eminent church leaders arrived in Juba on February 3rd to help shore up peace efforts in the country after visiting neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo.
“My wife, Caroline, has worked with many of you and has heard the stories of you taking food, clothing and training to those who should be considered your enemies, even risking your lives. May God inspire us with your example and enable us to offer you the care and value Jesus gave to women around him,” Welby said.
He also called on the South Sudanese men to respect rights of women.
“Young men you will value and honour women. Never raping, never violent, never cruel, never using them as if they were simply there to satisfy desire. When we are one, we value and honour women,” Welby said.
“Youth are are not just the future, but the present. If we value you, we will listen to your hopes for peace and opportunity, and we allow those hopes to shape the priorities of our nation and church. You will not be deceived into war. You will not be forced to kill. You will disagree with others, but you will still love them. You will set an obedient pattern of love to God,” he added.