Pope Francis to deliver message of good hope to Juba IDPs

Pope Francis to deliver message of good hope to Juba IDPs
Pope Francis is expected to tour South Sudan for the first time. [Courtesy]

Pope Francis will personally deliver a message of hope to Internally Displaced People (IDPs) during his two-day Ecumenical Peace Pilgrimage in South Sudan, next month.

The Pontiff will be in Juba from July 5-7.

Though he has a tight schedule, local organisers with knowledge of the Pope’s itinerary disclosed to The City Review that the head of the Catholic Church will spend close to two hours with the IDPs in his maiden visit to South Sudan.

“He will deliver a message of hope to them, that they are not abandoned and that situation will one day improve and they will go back to their homes,” Fr. Samuel Abe, General Coordinator for the Pope’s Visit to South Sudan told The City Review in an exclusive interview.  

Pope Francis, who is expected to touch down at Juba International Airport at exactly 3 pm, on July 5, will spend the better part of the evening meeting the political class, which includes the four Vice Presidents. His first day will end after a meeting with Authorities, the Civil Society and the Diplomatic Corps in the garden of the Presidential Palace in Juba.

He will be received into the country, from Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, by President Salva Kiir.

His second day will begin at 8.45, with a visit to a local IDP camp.

Fr. Samuel, however, did not specify the exact camp the Pope will be visiting, though he told City Review that the Pontiff would want to “feel” the plight of the IDPs, at a personal level.

“We (organisers) wanted to have him meet IDP outside the camp, but he insisted that he want to go there and see for himself, what the people are going through,” added Fr. Samuel.

Pope’s up-close interaction with IDPs will run until 10.30.

“We have arranged that the message of the IDPs be delivered by a child because the Pope is always known to be very close to children. His speech will highlight the plights of the IDPs,”

Asked whether he has any information whether the Pope will kiss the feet of some IDPs, just as he did to President Kiir and First Vice President Riek Machar, when the two leaders visited the Vatican in 2019, Fr. Samuel said: “That is a personal decision that he (Pope) will have to make for himself but nothing stops him from doing so if he pleases.

“Kissing of the feet is not something planned. It is evoked by the spirit,” added Fr. Samuel.

Last year, the Vatican supported victims of flooding and Fr. Francis says that the visit by the Pope is a significant step to having a lasting peace in South Sudan.

Pope Francis’s itinerary in Juba

15:00 arrival at Juba International Airport.

15:00 Welcome Ceremony at Juba International Airport.

15:45 Courtesy Visit to the President of the Republic at the Presidential Palace in Juba

16:15 Meeting with the Vice presidents of the Republic at the Presidential Palace in Juba.

17:00 Meeting with Authorities, Civil Society and the Diplomatic Corps in the garden of the Presidential Palace in Juba.

Wednesday, 6 July 2022 in JUBA.

8:45 Visit to Internally Displaced People at the IDPs Camp in Juba.

11:30 Private meeting with the Members of the Society of Jesus in the Apostolic Nunciature in Juba.

17:00 Meeting with Bishops, Priests, Religious, Consecrated Persons, Seminarians in the Cathedral of Saint Therese in Juba.

18:30 Ecumenical Prayer at “John Garang” Mausoleum in Juba.

Thursday, 7 July 2022 from JUBA – ROME.

8:00 Holy Mass at “John Garang” Mausoleum in Juba.

10:45 Farewell Ceremony at Juba International Airport.

11:15 Departure by airplane from Juba International Airport to Rome.

18:05 Arrival at Rome/Fiumicino International Airport.

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