Vatican Prime Minister prepares for the Pope’s visit

Vatican Prime Minister prepares for the Pope’s visit
Pope Francis is expected to tour South Sudan for the first time. [Courtesy]

The Vatican has insisted that the postponed Pope’s visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan is not cancelled completely.

While addressing the press last Friday, the Vatican’s Charge de’ Affaires, Ionut Paul Strejac, read the statement from the Vatican that the Secretary-General of Vatican State, His Eminence Pietro Parolin, who serves as the Prime Minister and is second in command after the Pope, was delegated by the Pope to prepare the way for his visit.

“We have good news, that the Holy Father will send his Secretary of State that is the Prime Minister of the Vatican to come to Juba to show his closeness to the people of South Sudan in preparation for his forthcoming visit,” Strejac said.

“The Holy Father is determined to come to South Sudan and he reiterated this a couple of times during these three weeks since the announcement of the postponement.”

The Pope delivered a video message to the people of South Sudan on Saturday as a means of keeping their hope alive about his visit.

He stated that the visit of the Pope was postponed because the date to visit South Sudan and DRC was near and could not be possible for the recuperation of his knee.

 Paul noted that the Pope would visit Canada if he recovers from his knee sickness and will later organise his visit to South Sudan.

Fr. John Mbemboyo, the Social Communication Coordinator for South Sudan’s Catholic Bishops’ Conference, stated that Parolin’s visit is not replacing Pope’s visit and people should receive his with great honour.

“The coming of the cardinal is not to cancel the visit of the Pope but he is coming to enhance and show the closeness of the Holy Father to us,” Fr. John explained.

“He will take the message back to them and tell them that people are waiting for them. So, let us take it as an opportunity to prepare ourselves and to come in numbers to celebrate the Holy Mass and Pray also for our journey to the future.”

The Vatican State Secretary will arrive in Juba in the morning of July 5, 2022, and will meet President Salva Kiir and the First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar in the afternoon.