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08/06/2022 South Sudan and the DRC (International Christian Concern) – Pope Francis was scheduled to visit South Sudan and the DRC in early July but delayed the visit due to health problems. Catholic authorities in South Sudan and the DRC were disappointed at the delay, as they believed the Pope’s visit would have helped foster more peace and reconciliation in their countries.  

Musiitwa, a leader of the Wau Diocese in South Sudan, expressed the disappointment that many leaders felt towards the delayed visit, “Many people in South Sudan were eagerly waiting for the pope’s visit, and the biggest expectation of the Catholic community is that the visit would have helped establish the church as a community driven by reconciliation, peace, forgiveness, and unity.” Pope Francis has recently visited indigenous communities in Canada, which gives the leaders hope that he will reschedule his visit to Africa. 

Musiitwa added, “I was disappointed because I thought that it was a missed opportunity in my life. Meeting a pope comes with its own blessing. Pope Francis was coming to South Sudan to encourage all of us who are working in a difficult environment that he is close to us.” 

Both South Sudan and the DRC continue to suffer from internal unrest, which has caused the displacement of millions of people, as well as poverty, hunger issues, and the spread of certain diseases. Pope Francis acknowledged the problems in the Congo in a video statement announcing the delay of his visit. He said that the Congo suffers from “exploitation, violence, and insecurity, particularly in the east of the country, where armed clashes continue, causing countless and dramatic sufferings, exacerbated by the indifference and self-interests of so many.”  

When Pope Francis announced his delayed visit, he sent the Vatican secretary of state to South Sudan and the DRC, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, to the two countries on a “reassurance” trip. Parolin stated, “It is an important trip. I feel truly honored to be able to go to both the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan and to bring to those peoples the pope’s affection, together with the assurance that as soon as conditions permit, especially from the point of view of health, he himself will make this trip.” 

Additionally, Catholic priests in the Congo hope that the Pope’s visit will help ease tensions between the Catholic Church and the Congolese government. The most recent incident was when the Catholic Church in the Congo accused the president’s brother-in-law of stealing land from them.  

The DRC and South Sudan continue to hope that the Pope’s visit will spearhead peace efforts within both countries against their insurgencies.  

Please pray for an end to the conflict in these countries.  

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