Pope Arrives in South Sudan For 'Pilgrimage of Peace'

    Pope Arrives in South Sudan For 'Pilgrimage of Peace'
    Last updated Feb 03, 2023
    Image credit: AFP/Getty Images [via NPR]


    • Pope Francis arrived in South Sudan on Friday to encourage a peaceful end to the country's conflict that has been ongoing for a decade and has taken the lives of hundreds of thousands and displaced millions.
    • The pope's arrival — accompanied by the head of the Anglican Communion and the leader of the Church of Scotland — is part of a broader African tour to call attention to conflict in the region that saw him visit the Democratic Republic of Congo earlier this week.
    • This is the Pope's first visit to South Sudan since it won its independence from Sudan in 2011. A civil war erupted two years later, and, despite a 2018 peace deal, clashes across political and ethnic lines have continued in the region.
    • The Pope previously expressed interest in traveling to the predominately Christian country but was unable to because of the pandemic as well as ongoing instability in the country. Instead, in April 2019, the Pope hosted a spiritual retreat at the Vatican for South Sudan's political and faith leaders.
    • Ahead of Pope Francis' Friday visit, "tit-for-tat" violence broke out between cattle farmers and militia fighters in Central Equatoria state. Government officials announced that between the two groups, at least 27 people have died, including five children and a pregnant woman.
    • This comes as the Troika Embassies, made up of the US, Britain, and Norway — security guarantors for the transitional government — warned of new conflict taking place in parts of the country. Amid the security concerns, the government announced 5k security officers to ensure calm during the Pope's visit to Juba.


    Narrative A

    This is a historical event in the making. Violence in the region has gone on for far too long. As a majority Christian country, the Pope is a highly respected figure, and hopefully, he will be the catalyst needed for political and faith leaders in South Sudan to bring peace and stability to the nation.

    Narrative B

    While this is an important trip, it's more symbolic than significant, as the Pope's visit alone will not bring the much-needed change to South Sudan. Besides just talking about peace-making, this visit needs to be accompanied by an overhaul in leadership. Until then, politicians will continue to act in their own interests with no regard for those whose lives they impact.

    Narrative C

    While there's still a long way to go, the young nation of South Sudan has been making progress. In February 2022, the transitional government celebrated two years of the Revitalized Government of National Unity, leaders' work continues to stabilize relations enough that the ceasefire remains active, the civilian death toll is decreasing by a significant measure, and democracy is in motion as government positions at the national and state level are being filled.

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