The Archbishop of Canterbury is to visit South Sudan along with Pope Francis and the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland this week.
Most Rev Justin Welby said the church leaders are making their pilgrimage to “amplify the cries of the South Sudanese people” who continue to suffer from conflict, flooding and famine.
The Archbishop will be visiting South Sudan with Pope Francis and Rt Rev Dr Iain Greenshields from 3rd to 5th February. Their ‘Ecumenical Pilgrimage of Peace’ is part of the Pope’s Apostolic Journey to the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) and South Sudan which begins on 31st January.
During the South Sudan visit the three church leaders will meet the country’s political leaders, hold an open-air ecumenical prayer vigil for peace and meet with people displaced by the conflict.
Archbishop Welby said :
“I am profoundly grateful to be visiting the people of South Sudan with my dear brothers in Christ, the Holy Father, Pope Francis, and Rt Rev Dr Iain Greenshields, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. We have prayed for many years for this visit – and we now look forward to being in Juba together in only a few days’ time.
“Our visit is a Pilgrimage of Peace. We come as servants – to listen to and amplify the cries of the South Sudanese people, who have suffered so much and continue to suffer because of conflict, devastating flooding, widespread famine and much more. Over the past three years and even since July, violence has intensified in many parts of the country. We hope to review and renew the commitments made by South Sudanese leadership at the Vatican in 2019, and the commitments they have made to their people since then.
“This will be a historic visit. After centuries of division, leaders of three different parts of the Church are coming together in an unprecedented way, and in so doing are seeking to be part of answering another prayer – Jesus’ prayer – that his followers might be one. (John: 17). And so I ask you to pray with us for the people of South Sudan.”
The Archbishop will be accompanied by his wife, Caroline Welby, who has made several previous visits to South Sudan to support women in the church in their role as peacebuilders.
Mrs Welby said :
“I have worked and worshipped with many of the women in South Sudan and find myself humbled by their stories. They have borne the grief of war and carry the responsibility to provide for their families. Many of them live with the trauma of displacement in their own country, refugees in other countries, sexual violence and the daily fear of mistreatment in their own homes and communities.
“And yet they are also incredible women of strength, praising God and coming to him for their refreshment. It is a privilege to walk alongside them, and I pray that their example is held up in South Sudan and around the world.”