By Simon Deng
The Vatican Secretary of State is set to visit Juba on Wednesday next week after Pope Francis recently canceled his anticipated visit to South Sudan and neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Cardinal Pietro Parolin after landing in Juba will also head to Bentiu town of Unity state on July 6 to celebrate the holy mass with the internally displaced persons.
This was revealed on Friday by Msgr. Ionut Paul Strejac, the Charge D’ Affaires for the Apostolic Nunciature in South Sudan.
“His Holiness Pope Francis has decided to send the Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin to Kinshasa and Juba in order to show his closeness to the beloved people of the Congo and South Sudan,” Paul told journalists in Juba.
The visit by Parolin to the two countries will start from 1 till 8 July.
The Vatican announced last month the cancelation of Pope Francis scheduled visit to South Sudan due to his knee pain.
“In the afternoon of the same day he (Parolin) will meet the President of the Republic of South Sudan and the First Vice President and then he will attend the bishops conference of Sudan and South Sudan,” Paul disclosed.
He said that Parolin will also visit the Catholic University of South Sudan and Astratuna Centre in Juba.
Parolin is expected to inaugurate the foundation stone of the new Vatican building in Juba.
Fr. John Gbemboyo, the Social Communication Coordinator for Sudan and South Sudan Catholic bishops’ conference, said Parolin’s arrival in Juba is in line with preparation for the eventual visit of Pope Francis.
“The holy father had to postpone his apostolic trip due to health reasons and now the Holy father will send his secretary of state to Juba to show his closeness to the people of South Sudan in preparation of his forthcoming visit,” Gbemboyo said.