Pope Francis joins UK church leaders to send Christmas greetings to the political leaders of South Sudan, wishing peace and prosperity upon the conflict-torn nation.
By Devin Watkins
Christmas is usually a time for sending messages of heat and well-wishes to those we might like better to see face to face.
Pope Francis took part therein age-old tradition by sending Christmas greetings to the people and political leaders of South Sudan.
Like most holiday messages, this one wasn’t written alone.
The Pope was joined by Archbishop Justin Welby, the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, and Reverend John Chalmers, Moderator of the overall Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland.
Peace and prosperity
“In this Christmas season and at the start of a replacement year,” they write, “we wish to increase to you and to all or any the people of South Sudan our greatest wishes for your peace and prosperity, and to assure you of our spiritual closeness as you strive for a swift implementation of the Peace Agreements.”
The country’s president, Salva Kiir, and opposition leader, Riek Machar, signed a peace deal in 2018 during a bid to finish the 5-year war, and agreed to make a unity government.
Path of reconciliation
Pope Francis and therefore the two Protestant leaders also encouraged South Sudan’s politicians to continue with efforts toward national unity.
“We raise our prayers to Christ the Saviour for a renewed commitment to the trail of reconciliation and fraternity,” they write, “and we invoke abundant blessings upon each of you and upon the whole nation.”
“May the Lord Jesus, Prince of Peace, enlighten you and guide your steps within the way of goodness and truth, and convey to fulfilment our desire to go to the one that you love country.”
Papal visit in 2020
Pope Francis announced in November that he intends to visit South Sudan in 2020.
So these Christmas greetings could be soon followed with a long-awaited meeting in person.