The transitional unity government is highly banking on the upcoming papal visit to help galvanize various communities toward peaceful co-existence in the country, a senior official has said.
Michael Makuei Lueth, the Minister of Information, Communication, Technology and Postal Services said last week that they are full of optimism on the visit by Pope Francis.
“We are hopeful that South Sudan will be in peace and harmony, and that we will benefit and be blessed by the three religious leaders,” said Makuei while addressing journalists after the weekly cabinet meeting in Juba.
On February 3rd, Pope Francis will arrive in Juba from neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) accompanied by the Head of the Episcopal Church of Canterbury, Justin Portal Welby, and the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Rt Rev Dr. Iain Greenshields.
Makuei said the main objective of the papal visit to South Sudan is to preach peace, and ask the people to forgive one another and live in peace and harmony so that the country moves forward.
“He is coming to bless us so that we change our behaviors because at times we behave abnormally. So, he is coming here to pray for us so that peace prevails in South Sudan,” said Makuei said.
“The coming of the Pope is a historical event and it has never happened in the world that the three churches come together except when President Kiir and Dr. Machar and the rest went to the Vatican,” he added.
The government has declared February 3, public holiday to honour the visit of Pope Francis, who will be jetting into the country for a three-day tour.
In April 2019, President Salva Kiir and First Vice President Riek Machar attended the Vatican retreat in Rome hosted by Pope Francis. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Portal Welby, and Rt Rev Dr. Iain Greenshields, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland were also present.
The retreat aimed at convincing the two once rival leaders to end their political rivalry, and implement the 2018 revitalized peace deal to end the brutal conflict that broke out in December 2013.
The Pope is set to travel to Kinshasa on January 31st before proceeding to South Sudan on February 3rd where he will be joined by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Portal Welby, and Rt Rev Dr. Iain Greenshields, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.