South Sudan presidency welcomes planned papal visit
South Sudan's presidential affairs minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin said the decision by the head of the Catholic Church is not only an honour to President Salva Kiir Mayardit, but for the people of South Sudan who have endured the brunt of the 8-years-old conflict.
JUBA – South Sudan presidency has welcomed the decision of the head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, to visit the world’s youngest country, the first of its kind in the war-torn country.
In a statement on Thursday, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis will visit South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in July, making a trip he has repeatedly had to delay because of security concerns in a country still emerging from a post-independence civil war.
South Sudan’s presidential affairs minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin said the decision by the head of the Catholic Church is not only an honour to President Salva Kiir Mayardit, but for the people of South Sudan who have endured the brunt of the 8-years-old conflict.
“This is an honour not only to his Excellency as the President but to the people of South Sudan as well. It is an indication that the efforts of the president and the government to reconcile people are being heard by world leaders,” he told Paris-based Sudan Tribune.
July will mark the 11th anniversary of South Sudan’s secession from Sudan. Civil war erupted two years later in 2013, causing 400,000 deaths, Reuters reported.
The two main sides signed a peace deal in 2018 but hunger and deadly clashes are still common across the country.
Minister Marial said that the government recognizes and grants the freedom of religion and does not interfere in the church in pastoral activities.
He further praised the Church for its support to the people of South Sudan, since the first war, to bring peace and provide humanitarian assistance, healthcare and education.
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