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Pope and Anglican leader will visit S Sudan together if possible

©ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP
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Francis has long wanted to visit the nation; Archbishop Welby will go with him if S Sudan can manage to create a transitional government

On Sunday, the pope reiterated his desire to visit South Sudan, asking the faithful to pray for the troubled nation.

And after a meeting with the Anglican leader, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, on Wednesday, Francis said that if the political situation is sufficient, the two will visit the country together.

The Holy Father had already expressed his wish to go to South Sudan during an audience with the nation’s president, Salva Kiir.

Speaking to the faithful in St Peter’s Square for the midday Angelus on Sunday, the pope said he wished to renew his invitation “to all those involved in the national political process to seek what unites and to overcome what divides, in a spirit of true brotherhood.”

He also recalled the spiritual retreat for the authorities of the country, which took place in the Vatican last April.

The pontiff said “the South Sudanese people have suffered too much in recent years and look forward with great hope to a better future, especially the definitive end of conflicts and lasting peace. I therefore urge those responsible to continue, tirelessly, with their commitment to an inclusive dialogue in the search for consensus for the good of the nation.”

… the South Sudanese people have suffered too much in recent years and look forward with great hope to a better future …

The pope expressed the hope that the international community would not neglect to accompany South Sudan on the path to national reconciliation.

In meeting with Archbishop Welby, the two agreed that if the political situation in the Country permits the creation of a transitional government of national unity in the coming 100 days, according to the timing set by the recent agreement signed in Entebbe, in Uganda, it is their intention to visit South Sudan together.

Following its independence in 2011, South Sudan erupted into civil war in 2013. President Salva Kiir accused his Vice-President Rieck Machar of orchestrating a coup against him. Up to 400,000 people have been killed and more than 4 million displaced in the conflict.

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