Peace Starts from our Hearts and Homes – Pope Francis in South Sudan

08 February 2023|Emmanuel J Loboka

Pope Francis concluded his ecumenical peace pilgrimage to South Sudan with an open-air Mass in Juba. It was attended by tens of thousands of people.

He urged the congregation to reject what he called “the poison of hatred” and called on them not to miss any opportunity to build peace.

People saw Pope Francis’ visit as an opportunity to call South Sudan’s leaders and elites, its decision-makers, to pray and work for peace. Thousands of people welcomed His Holiness at the airport during his three-day visit to Juba, South Sudan. The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in South Sudan was present with its staff members from Upper Nile states in Maban, where the most significant refugee populations are in South Sudan and Western Equatoria states (WES). The local church in Maban and women’s groups had three refugee and IDPS representatives from Maban and Western Equatoria.

I am very happy for our presence in Juba to attend the visit of His Holiness Pope Francis, and thanks to JRS (Jesuit Refugee Service), I had the opportunity to meet him and shake his hand, he blessed me with a holy rosary. The Pope's message was clear and strong towards peace from our hearts and homes. The challenge may be great, but the blessing is greater.
Butrus Deng Dario - member of a local church in Maban, Upper Nile State, South Sudan.

Pope Francis met with internally displaced persons and refugees from different parts of South Sudan during his visit. JRS invited three members of the refugee community in Maban and members of the local church in the refugee camps to the meeting. He also met with the Jesuits working in South Sudan and the Jesuit Refugee Service South Sudan (JRS SSD) team at the Vatican Embassy.

It is common to point fingers at the leader when it comes to peace, but the leader is powerless when it comes to peace. It is up to the people of South Sudan to work for peace. Peace starts in our hearts and homes by removing the stones of hatred and revenge from our hearts because that is the beginning of peace. Let us teach our youth the culture of peace.

For many refugees and internally displaced people who know the Gospel, what they have been through, division, violence, killing, and displacement, can be a challenge. Nevertheless, we can only see the difference between the Pope’s visit and our lives through forgiveness, acceptance, and reconciliation. Peace within our environment.

Let us lay down the weapons of hatred and revenge. Let us learn to sprinkle the salt of forgiveness on our wounds. The salt on top of that also heals. Let us accept and love one another with sensuality and generosity, as God loves us.
His Holiness Pope Francis - Juba, South Sudan

His Holiness Pope Francis wants us to live peacefully with nature and the environment. Sometimes we think that the big manufacturers who produce smoke are the ones who destroy nature, but we are all involved. Creation was good, and if we take care of creation and nature and leave them in peace, the goodness of love and peace will come. We have received a gift, a blessing, that we will pass on to others.

Bishop Danial Aduok from the Kosti Diocese to Khartoum, met with the JRS team from Maban, the refugee community, and the residents of St. Mark Swamp at the JRS compound in Juba. They joined to reflect on His Holiness’ message. They thanked the JRS South Sudan team and the Maban pastoral team for allowing them to come to Juba and participate in this historic visit.

They were determined to continue to spread the massage of hope for their people and the refugee community.