Vatican’s Secretary of State Mass for Peace and Reconciliation in South Sudan

18 July 2022|Emmanuel Loboka

Related: Advocacy, South Sudan

Pope Francis was due to visit South Sudan on the 7th of July this month. However, the visit was postponed due to a knee problem. 

Cardinal Pietro Parolin the Vatican’s Secretary of State visited South Sudan instead from 5th to 8th July, during which time he visited those internally displaced and affected by the floods in Bentiu, Unity State, and fulfilled various other pastoral and political engagements. During an open air Mass with the faithful at Freedom Square, Juba, Cardinal Parolin jokingly compared himself to John the Baptist’ , paving the way for the future ecumenical visit involving Pope Francis. Thousands of people attended the Mass on Thursday morning including the President of the Republic of South Sudan, the Vice Presidents, other members of the government, and representatives from different Christian and Muslim faith communities in South Sudan.   Cardinal Parolin through his homily invited the congregation to reflect on the gospel of Matthew 5:38-48 gently challenging the congregation with the words:

‘If you want peace, you cannot obtain it with war.  If you want justice, you cannot achieve it through unjust and corrupt methods.  If you want reconciliation, you cannot harbor revenge.  If you want to serve your brothers and sisters, you cannot treat them as slaves.’ 
Cardinal Pietro Parolin Secretary of State to His Holiness

Cardinal Parolin shared the greeting of Pope Francis and spoke of South Sudan as a land of opportunities, but one that at the same time suffers from violence and darkness’ He said that it is upon us the people of South Sudan that the Lord as he told us through the prophet wants to make his light shine’’

“Yes, dear brothers and sisters, you are that people, dwelling in a land rich in resources and possibilities but at the same time covered in darkness and overshadowed by violence.  You are those people burdened by the yoke of oppression, poverty, and work, who desire to rejoice in freedom”

His words were powerful, challenging and touching. They were greeted with warm applause and appreciation from the congregation. The President’s message to the congregation and to the international community was that South Sudan and its government are working hard for peace, despite the challenges and difficulties, and that, there is no desire to take the people of South Sudan back to war. 

Go tell Pope Francis that I found those who were fighting each other sitting together here, I say this and I will repeat it again. I will not take the people of South Sudan back to war again
Salva Kiir Mayardit President of the Republic of South Sudan.

The President also made a call on the international community to please do more to help South Sudan with food aid, citing the impact of flooding on the ability to grow and harvest crops, resulting in huge hunger in the country. 

The team from Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Country Office in Juba attended the Mass wearing our souvenir T-Shirts bearing the theme of the visit “I Pray that all may be one(John 17). It was the first time for our team to gather in a large assembly for an open air Mass at Freedom Square. It was a happy day, a spiritual and prayerful occasion, with great and powerful words of encouragement from the Cardinal and from various other speakers. The Mass was beautifully organized with choirs and dancers, not even the rain could prevent people from enjoying! We gifted a JRS souvenir t-shirt of the visit, and some notes of appreciation for Cardinal Parolin to carry back to Pope Francis! We hope they may add to all the encouragement he has received to come to South Sudan soon! Meanwhile, in JRS, as men and women for others, we will continue do to what is within our means to support our teams, the local Church and communities where we work to reflect on the themes of this visit, and on the future ecumenical visit for the greater good.


With this publication, JRS South Sudan would like to thank in a particular way the Irish Jesuit Province and Irish Jesuits International, The Spanish Jesuit Province, and Aid to the Church in Need. Without their various supports the pastoral dimension of our work in South Sudan would not be possible.