Pope Francis is concerned about you, Cardinal Pietro delivers Pope’s first message to South Sudanese

Pope Francis is concerned about you, Cardinal Pietro delivers Pope’s first message to South Sudanese
Vatican Secretary, Cardinal Pietro Parolin after touching down at Juba International Airport for a two-day official visit. [Photo, Mamer Abraham]

​Hundreds of Catholic faithful thronged the streets of Juba as they welcomed Cardinal Pietro Parolin – the Vatican Secretary of State who arrived in South Sudan Tuesday, to deliver Pope Francis’ message to the nation.

The plane carrying the Pope’s messenger touched do​​wn at Juba International Airport a few minutes past 10am.

Clad in a black suit, a marching pair of black shoes and sky blue pallium with an embroidery of South Sudan flag, ​​Cardinal Pietro​ ​​disembarked from the Ethiopian Airline – through tunnel of well-dressed soldiers lining up on each side of the red carpet beneath; the ceremonial guns on their hands.

On his right hand, now facing eastern side of the DR Congo as he slowly walked to the check point, followed three Catholic priests. All were dressed in white robes. The other side of the carpet were government officials and the presidential security team in their regular black suits – keeping a safe distance.

The delegation that received him included Senior Presidential Advisor, Kuol Manyang Juuk, the Minister for Defense Angelina Teny and Metropolitan of Juba Archdiocese, Bishop Stephen Ameyu.

Cardinal Pietro assured relaid concerns of the Pope to the people of South Sudan, concerned peace and reconciliation in the country.

“I would like only to express my deepest gratitude to all of you, starting from the representative of the president, the church and all the population of South Sudan.

“It is a great joy for me to be with you, and to be able to stay a few days to celebrate, to pray, to meet people and so on on behalf of the Holy Father Pope Francis. He is willing to arrive one day to South Sudan,” said the Italian prelate.

“His Holiness is concerned about reconciliation and peace in South Sudan. He is following the good developments that are taking place with you, with the population of the church and the authorities who need his spiritual support. Thank you very much and God bless all of you,” added the 67 year cardinal.

Juuk termed the arrival of the Pope’s representative as a “blessing to the nation”.

“All the churches in South Sudan are welcoming you. The government is welcoming you and so are the people of South Sudan. We wish you a good stay in Juba, and in South Sudan, and this is when you will be seeing there is peace in South Sudan, peace is coming,” Juuk added.

Pope Francis on Saturday issued a video message to the people of South Sudan and Congo calling for peaceful coexistence by laying down arms and embracing peace and stability.

He urged South Sudanese and Congolese not to let themselves be deprived of hope, assuring them that God would answer their cry with lasting peace and stability.

“It is necessary to lay down arms, overcome resentment and write new pages of brotherhood. The tears that you pour on the earth and the prayers that you raise to heaven are not useless. The consolation of God will come because He has plans of peace and not of destruction,” said the pontiff.

Cardinal Pietro is expected to hold a secret meeting with President Salva Kiir and First Vice President Riek Machar – a meeting whose agenda is likely to revolve around a commitment to lasting peace in South Sudan.

He will also conduct a public mass during his two-day official visit to Juba.