Pope Francis, speaking at the Presidential Palace of Juba on Friday afternoon, appealed to the leaders of South Sudan to halt the conflict and violence.
“No more bloodshed, no more conflicts, no more violence and mutual recriminations about who is responsible for it, no more leaving your people athirst for peace. No more destruction: it is time to build! Leave the time of war behind and let a time of peace dawn!” the Pope insisted.
After bidding farewell to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Pope Francis' flight landed at Juba International Airport at 2:45 PM local time.
Shortly after landing, Pope Francis addressed the nation’s authorities, civil society, and diplomats of South Sudan.
The Pope encouraged them to consider themselves as "public" and "of the people" those who “have the duty to place themselves at the service of the common good.”
“That is the purpose of power: to serve the community,” he said.
Pope Francis directed South Sudan’s political leaders that they were “the fathers and mothers of this young country” to “renew the life of society as pure sources of prosperity and peace, so greatly needed for the sons and daughters of South Sudan.”
“They need fathers, not overlords; they need steady steps towards development, not constant collapses,” the Pope emphasized.
Pope Francis highlighted that the respect for human rights, upheld by law and the application of the law, particularly the right to the freedom of self-expression were the basis of democracy.
“There is no justice without freedom,” he stated, “It is time to move from words to deeds. It is time to turn the page: it is the time for commitment to an urgent and much-needed transformation.”
The Pope reiterated the leaders of the nations to take care of their citizens.
“How many people have had to flee their homes, and now find themselves consigned to the margins of life as a result of conflicts and forced displacement!” he remarked.
Pope Francis encouraged the development of good healthcare policies and crucial infrastructure.
He pointed out that the promotion of literacy and education was “the only way that the children of this nation will be able to take their future into their own hands.”
“Like all the children of this continent and of the world, they have the right to grow up holding in their hands, notebooks, and toys, not weapons and tools for labor,” the Pope emphasized.
He asserted that the Papal visit is an ecumenical pilgrimage of peace with the company of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Scotland Church.
“We undertook this ecumenical pilgrimage of peace after hearing the plea of an entire people that, with great dignity, weeps for the violence it endures, its persistent lack of security, its poverty, and the natural disasters that it has experienced,” the Pope said.
Pope Francis offered his “heartfelt prayers and support so that South Sudan can experience reconciliation and a change of direction.” - With inputs from Vatican News
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