The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Moderator of the General Assembly of Scotland are in South Sudan with Pope Francis on a long-planned “Pilgrimage of Peace”. They had direct words for the country’s leaders at a Meeting with Authorities, Civil Society and Diplomatic Corps in Juba.
By Linda Bordoni
Pope Francis, Justin Welby and the Reverend Dr. Iain Greenshields addressed the political leaders of South Sudan on Friday afternoon, kicking off a long-planned ecumenical pilgrimage for peace to the ravaged east African nation.
Speaking after the Pope’s powerful address, the Archbishop of Canterbury recalled having witnessed the devastation of war in the country and the suffering and grief it caused when he visited the nation nine years ago.
Archbishop Welby reminded those present that, together with a former Moderator of the Church of Scotland, Pope Francis hosted a retreat at the Vatican in 2019 for the leaders of South Sudan.
However, the Archbishop continued, when he remembers the commitments made back in 2019, he is saddened by what he sees and hears.
Peace is in your hands
Archbishop Welby went on to point out that “the answer to peace and reconciliation is not in visits like this but it is in your hands.”
“For the heroic and brave and courageous people of South Sudan, who fought for so long for their freedom and won it,” surely they are people “who have the courage to struggle for peace and reconciliation,” he said.
“I pray this might be a visit of hope and healing, of time spent together as one family of Christ, following the one God who brings us ever closer to each other and to him,” he concluded.
Peace is within the reach of the leaders
In his speech, the Right Reverand Dr Iain Greenshields highlighted the need for the peace of Christ.
“Today, we need that peace. We need churches and leaders who are generous of heart, liberal of love, and profligate with God’s grace,” he exclaimed. “We need leaders who care about the values by which our countries live, who care about the conditions in which people live, and who act out their faith in work amongst the most vulnerable and marginalised.”
Noting that all the people are essential co-workers in God’s desire for a world in which all people can live life in fullness, he said it is “in the reach of the President, Vice-Presidents, leaders and people of South Sudan to extend the reach of justice and compassion to the whole of this young and optimistic country, full of people ready to work for a vibrant and fulfilling future.”