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Bishops of South Sudan visit Pope Francis

Bishops visiting Pope Francis

Pope Francis speaks with the Sudanese Cardinal Gabriel Zubeir as they pose for a collective picture with the members of the joint Sudanese South Sudanese delegation on January 20, 2016 (Photo Obsservatore Romano)

From Sudan Tribune; January 22, 2016 (KHARTOUM) – South Sudanese and Sudanese archbishops who visited Pope Francis of Catholic Vatican city said they had extended invitation to him to visit the two neighbouring, formerly one country.

Vatican Radio reported that Pope Francis met with the bishops of Sudan and South Sudan on Wednesday, shortly before his weekly general audience. The bishops are in Rome for a meeting organized by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

They spoke about a wide variety of topics at the meeting: peace, poverty, and vocations in each country. The apostolic nuncios in both countries joined the meeting, which finished with a traditional group photo.

Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Juba, Paulino Lukudu Loro, said Pope Francis accepted to visit the two countries at an appropriate time which was not however fixed.

“He said: I am ready. I want to. I want to. I want to. But we have to leave everything in the hands of the Lord,” Archbishop Paulino Lukudu quoted Pope Francis as saying.

He told Vatican Radio’s 105Live  the “issue of peace” is still a priority in both countries, especially South Sudan, “because we are at war.”

South Sudan, which split from the Sudan in 2011, has been in civil war for the last two years since December 2013, and the violence has created more than a million refugees and internally displaced people. The new civil war has killed tens of thousands of people.

“Without peace, religion has difficulties,” Archbishop Loro said, adding that the church must also address the issue of vacant dioceses, as well as providing support for the local clergy.

The Catholic Church in South Sudan has one archdiocese, and six dioceses. The bishops are members of the Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference, which includes the bishops from Sudan.