Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Saturday 17 April |
Saint of the Day: Bl. Mariana of Jesus
home iconNews
line break icon

South Sudan president says he “trembled” when pope kissed his feet

AFP Photo | Vatican Media

Zelda Caldwell - published on 05/18/19

Nobody was more surprised by Pope Francis’ unusual gesture, made as a plea for peace.

In an address to his country’s parliament, the president of South Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit, said he was “shocked” when Pope Francis kissed his feet last month at a spiritual retreat arranged by the Vatican to promote peace in South Sudan.

“I was shocked and trembled when His Holiness the Pope kissed our feet. It was a blessing and can be a curse if we play games with the lives of our people,” President Kiir said, according to report in africanews.com.

Attendees at the retreat, held on April 10 and 11, included President Mayardit and five designated Vice Presidents, including Riek Machar, who has been the main opposition leader.

At the time of the retreat, the leaders were expected to take office together on May 12 in a power-sharing arrangement that observers hoped would end the conflict and discord that has plagued the country since 2013.

According to africanews.com, Machar is in Khartoum, and has been reluctant to return to Juba, the capital of South Sudan, in order to set up the unity government, out of concerns for his safety.

In his address, President Kiir called on his former rival to return.

“I re-extend my invitation to Dr Riek Machar to return home. I have completely forgiven him, and he is no longer my opponent. I call upon all armed opposition to work with our army to continue to open corridors for freedom of movement and open up trade routes,” he said.

According to a report in catholicoutlook.org, President Kiir’s spokesman told the media that “other opposition figures were already in Juba, and this should be a sign that similarly Machar’s ‘security will be taken care of while the government is formed.’”

The conflict, which began in December of 2013, after President Kiir accused his former deputy, Machar and others of attempting to overthrow the government, has cost the lives of an estimated 400,000 people.

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
SPANISH FLU
Bret Thoman, OFS
What Padre Pio saw in the Spanish Flu of 1918
2
LOREN SCHAUERS
Annalisa Teggi
Amputee from the waist down is thankful every day to be alive
3
HOLY SEPULCHRE CROSSES
Zelda Caldwell
Mystery of crosses on walls of Church of the Holy Sepulchre may h...
4
PADRE PIO
Philip Kosloski
Padre Pio’s favorite prayer of petition
5
PADRE PIO
Philip Kosloski
St. Padre Pio: His life, his miracles and his legacy
6
PRAY
Philip Kosloski
Catholic prayers for strength
7
COUPLE
Cerith Gardiner
7 Joys to be had from a lengthy marriage
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.