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Pope Francis kisses feet of South Sudan’s leaders at ecumenical retreat

Pope Francis kisses feet of South Sudan’s leaders at ecumenical retreat

Pope Francis kisses the feet of South Sudanese leaders. Photo: Vatican Media

16 April 2019

An ecumenical spiritual retreat led by the Archbishop of Canterbury and Pope Francis at the Vatican ended yesterday with Pope Francis kissing the feet of South Sudan’s political leaders. The unprecedented two-day retreat was organised in an effort to support the country’s fragile peace deal.

The pope’s unprecedented act of humbleness aimed to encourage the leaders in strengthening the African country’s faltering peace process.

“To the three of you who have signed the peace agreement, I ask you as a brother: stay in peace”, Pope Francis said. “I am asking you with my heart. Let us go forward. There will be many problems but they will not overcome us. Go ahead, go forward, and resolve the problems. You have begun a process. May it end well."

“There will be struggles and disagreements amongst you, but let this be within the community – inside the office, as it were – but in front of the people, hold hands, united; so as simple citizens you will become fathers of the nation.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, described the retreat as a “miracle”, saying that “until within 24 hours of it beginning we didn’t know it was going to happen. The atmosphere has been extraordinary and we just see the hand of God in it.”

The military overthrow of Sudan’s longtime president has raised concerns about whether the upheaval will destabilize neighboring South Sudan’s fragile efforts at peace after five years of civil war.

Anglican Communion