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Juba City - 3 Feb 2023

Juba prepares to receive the Vicar of Christ

The St. Theresa Cathedral in Kator got a fresh coat of paint. (Photo: Radio Tamazuj)
The St. Theresa Cathedral in Kator got a fresh coat of paint. (Photo: Radio Tamazuj)

Preparations are in high gear for the coming of Pope Francis and other religious leaders to South Sudan's Capital Juba on the 3rd of February 2023.

The Pope's visit to South Sudan is aimed at encouraging the country’s leaders to work towards achieving peace.

In some of the places visited by Radio Tamazuj on Thursday, many people said they would go to the Dr. John Garang Mausoleum and St. Theresa Catholic Cathedral on Friday to receive Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Portal Welby, and Rt Rev Dr. Iain Greenshields, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

Korsuk Ciciva Nyarsuk, a member of the protocol committee said preparations are almost complete to receive the religious leaders.

“Our preparation up to now is almost 100 percent and we are ready to receive the three religious leaders,” Korsuk said. “The preparation is going on well, now the members of the committee are ready and they are now setting up the venue.”

Korsuk disclosed that guests from all over the world traveled to Juba to witness the papal visit.

“We started receiving our guests through the Juba International Airport today (Thursday) and we are expecting the moderator of the General Assembly, Rt. Rev. Dr. Iain Greenshields, Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and Pope Francis,” he said. “We have received several church leaders, most;y bishops from the region.”

Bishop David Akau Kuol of the Episcopal Church’s Awerial Diocese in Lakes State who is a member of the organizing committee said the three religious leaders will deliver messages of peace, unity, and reconciliation.

“Our government and the church are united to work for peace in this nation and the preparations are going on very well and we are ready to welcome the three religious leaders,” he said. “We pray that God will bring them safely to South Sudan and we are hoping that as a church, peace, unity, and reconciliation will prevail in South Sudan.”

Benjamin Steward, a citizen, expressed happiness about the visit of the three religious leaders describing it as a blessing to the world’s youngest nation.

“We hope their coming will bring changes in our lives, we need to love each other as one people and one nation,” said Steward. “We need to have peace in our hearts and not peace that people just talk about.”

Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and Moderator General of the Church of Scotland, Rt. Rev. Dr. Iain Greenshields are expected to arrive in Juba on Friday after a two days itinerary to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In July, the papal visit was called off due to a knee ailment that confined Pope Francis to a wheelchair. 

The 86-year-old pontiff has made several visits to Africa since becoming Pope in 2013, but this is his first visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.

On 3 February, the pontiff with the Archbishop and the Moderator-General will meet and greet the presidency and foreign diplomats.

He will then retire to his Vatican residence while his accompanying delegation will be taken to the Raddison Blu hotel late in the afternoon.

On February 4, the Pope will lead a prayer vigil with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, and the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland Rev Iain Greenshields.

The Pope will pray at Saint Theresa Cathedral in Kator, the Archbishop of Canterbury will go to pray at All Saints Cathedral and the Moderator-General will go to the Presbyterian Church in Jebel.

After the morning prayers, they will meet internally displaced persons at Freedom Hall in the afternoon, before moving to Dr. John Garang Mausoleum for public prayers at 6 pm.

On the morning of 5 February, people will also be assembling at the John Garang Mausoleum for a final mass after which the Pope and his team will leave South Sudan.