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Juba City - 4 Feb 2023

‘Be courageous and ready to die for Africa’-Pope tells Catholic clergy

Pope addresses the Catholic clergy at St. Theresa Cathedral in Juba. (Photo/Vatican Media)
Pope addresses the Catholic clergy at St. Theresa Cathedral in Juba. (Photo/Vatican Media)

Pope Francis during the second day of his ecumenical pilgrimage in Juba in South Sudan and while meeting the catholic clergy and lay workers at the St. Theresa Cathedral, asked them to be courageous, have generous souls, and be ready to die for Africa.

The Holy Father emphasized this while addressing bishops, priests, deacons, consecrated persons, seminarians, and lay pastoral workers on Saturday morning.

The pope recalled the great evangelization work carried out by Saint Daniel Comboni in South Sudan with his missionary brothers, and how he used to say "that a missionary must be ready to do anything for the sake of Christ and the Gospel." 

“We need courageous and generous souls ready to suffer and die for Africa,” the pope said.

The Pope thanked the clergy on the behalf of the entire Church for everything they do amid so many trials and tribulations, especially for their dedication, courage, sacrifices, and patience. 

The Pontiff also recalled the remarks he made in his speech yesterday where he drew upon the image of the waters of the River Nile which flows through South Sudan. He said that in the Bible, water is often associated with God’s activity in creation, and cleanses and sanctifies.

The waters of that great river, the Pope lamented, collect "the sighs and sufferings of your communities, the pain of so many shattered lives, the tragedy of a people in flight, the sorrow and fear in the hearts and eyes of so many women and children."

They also, he added, bring to mind the story of Moses, "a story of liberation and salvation."

“Let us ask ourselves what it means for us to be ministers of God in a land scarred by war, hatred, violence, and poverty,” he counseled.  “How can we exercise our ministry in this land, along the banks of a river bathed in so much innocent blood, among the tear-stained faces of the people entrusted to us?”

The Pope suggested the clergy reflect on two aspects of Moses’ character, namely his meekness, and intercession.

“Our first duty is not to be a Church that is perfectly organized, but a Church that, in the name of Christ, stands amid people’s troubled lives, a Church that is willing to dirty its hands for people,” he said.

This was the pope’s first engagement on the second day of his pilgrimage in South Sudan and he will later meet his Jesuit confreres, and internally displaced peoples, and participate in an ecumenical prayer gathering, later on in the day. The Pope will celebrate Mass for the nation's faithful on Sunday morning.

The Holy Father is in South Sudan as a "pilgrim of peace," where he is embarking upon a three-day ecumenical pilgrimage for peace, with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Portal Welby, and Rt Rev Dr. Iain Greenshields, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.