JUBA, JANUARY 23rd 2023 (SUDANS POST) – The advance team of Pope Francis has arrived in South Sudan’s capital Juba ahead of a widely anticipated and landmark visit to the world’s youngest country on February 3, 2023, a senior government official has said.
Michael Makuei, the country’s information minister told Sudans Post that the team was led by the Vatican chief protocol Ms. Rachel and said that more teams including members of the international media are expected in the country this week.
“An advance team from Vatican has arrived in Juba yesterday. They are coming of course ahead of the coming of Pope Francis which is taking place starting February 3rd 2023. More teams including media personnel from Europe and other places are also expected in Juba this week,” Makuei said.
Makuei who is also the government spokesman further called on the people of South Sudan to come out in big numbers to welcome the head of the Catholic Church, saying IDPs will be transported to central Juba to meet him.
“I call upon the people of South Sudan specially those who are here in Juba to come out in big number to welcome the Pope. Of course, it is unprecedented visit to our country since we obtained out independence and this will in many ways boost reconciliation,” he said.
“Those who are in the POC here in Juba and somewhere will be transported by buses to Freedom Hall where they will speak to Pope Francis,” he said.
Makuei further said that the visiting head Catholic Church will be welcomed by the airport by President Salva Kiir, First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar Teny, all the other vice presidents and senior government officials and will proceed to the presidency for a welcoming meeting with the presidency.
LAND MARK VISIT
Though late Pope John Paul II visited what was then a united Sudan in 1993, it is a landmark visit in South Sudan as it is the first visit by a head of the Roman Catholic Church since the country obtained its independence from Sudan in July 2011.
The 1993 visit by Pope John Paul II to Sudan was a part of an African tour in which he also travelled to Benin and Uganda.
The purpose of the visit was to let his support to the Christians be seen at a time when Sudan had been ten years into a civil war.