Pope sends cardinal to South Sudan to urge peace

IMAGE: CNS photo/Jok Solomun, Reuters

By Junno Arocho Esteves

— Pope Francis sent a high-ranking cardinal to South Sudan to urge a
peaceful end to the escalating violence in the country.

Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, met
with President Salva Kiir in the capital, Juba, July 19 and delivered two
letters on the pope’s behalf — one addressed to the nation’s president and
another to the vice president.

cardinal said the letters, which the pope gave to him prior to his departure to
Juba, contained a message calling for peace in the country.

pope’s message “can be summarized like so: ‘Enough now, enough with this
conflict,'” Cardinal Turkson told Vatican Radio July 20.

Ghanaian cardinal noted that “the speed with which the pope reacted to the
need of sending a message of solidarity and to call for peace is amazing.”

to him some time ago, he told me, ‘I want to go.’ These difficult situations are
always in the Holy Father’s heart,” the cardinal said.

to SIR, the Italian bishops’ news agency, a local missionary priest confirmed
the pope’s concern for the increasing violence in the country.

know that Pope Francis is following every evolution (of the crisis) very
closely. Cardinal Peter Turkson was sent by the pope here in these days to us
in Juba,” said Italian Comboni Father Daniele Moschetti, superior of the
Comboni Missionaries in Juba.

nearly a year, South Sudan has been trying to emerge from a civil war caused by
political rivalry between Vice President Riek Machar and Kiir,
who represent different ethnic groups. Violent clashes spread across the city
and left tens of thousands of people dead since the beginning of their rivalry
in December 2013.

a cease-fire is currently in effect in Juba, Father Moschetti said the threat
of violence continues to loom large over the people and the church, which
includes 350 local and international missionaries.

climate, including toward the church, is changing: We are all at risk,”
SIR reported him as saying.

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Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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