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Pope Francis greets African bishops at of the Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar in Kenya, 2015. Observers believe that a Papal visit to South Sudan might bring some pressure on the conflict partners to finally make peace / Photo: MGA

Pope to visit South Sudan, but only on one condition

Pope Francis has made a surprise announcement saying he wants to make a trip to famine-struck, war-torn South Sudan, but not on his own.

He wants the head of the Anglican Church, Archbishop Justin Welby, to come too.

Francis made the disclosure at the weekend in impromptu comments during a visit to Rome’s Anglican Church, the first to the parish by a pope, to mark the 200th anniversary of its opening.

The pope said the trip would likely last just one day, which Vatican sources have said would be for security reasons. Francis gave no indication when it could take place but sources have said it would be this year.

“My aides and I are studying the possibility of a trip to South Sudan,” the pope said in response to a question about Christian Churches in Africa.

South Sudan has been in a state of war for nearly three years and all diplomatic efforts by the international community to resolve the ethnic-coloured conflict,  which has forced millions to become displaced within the vast country, have failed.

To make matters worse for the country, a famine is currently ravaging its northern region due to a collapse of the agricultural economy caused by the armed conflict.

Observers believe that a Papal visit might bring some pressure on the conflict partners to finally make peace for the sake of their long-suffering people.

South Sudan became independent in July 2011 after nearly 60 years of struggle against the Muslim-dominated government of Sudan .

Kwame Appiah

 

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