Published: Sun, April 14, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Pope kisses feet of South Sudan leaders

Pope kisses feet of South Sudan leaders

Social media is now buzzing with visuals of renowned religious leader, Pope Francis, who was captured in a dramatic gesture as he went on his knees to kiss some South Sudan warring leaders in a bid to urge them not to return to civil war.

The two sides of war-ravaged South Sudan will not be able to meet a May 12 deadline to form a unity government because key requirements of a peace deal have not been met, former rebel leader Riek Machar told Reuters on Friday.

Thursday's military coup in Sudan sparked anxiety in neighboring South Sudan that the toppling of longtime President Omar al-Bashir could scupper a fragile peace deal that ended South Sudan's five-year civil war. "There will be many problems, but do not be afraid", he told the leaders, speaking without a text at the end of the meeting.

Addressing the South Sudanese leaders in his residence, the pope said: "There will be struggles, disagreements among you but keep them within you, inside the office, so to speak, but in front of the people, hold hands united". He and Pope Francis have been supporting the peace efforts of the South Sudan Council of Churches and, the pope said again, they hope to visit South Sudan together when there is peace.

"Sudan has helped us with the peace deal".

"I never can understand why someone will let another person WHO SHOULDN'T be seen bowing to them, do so and they don't make any attempt to stop them".

After "so much death, hunger, hurt and tears", the pope said, the retreat participants "have clearly heard the cry of the poor and the needy; it rises up to heaven, to the very heart of God our father, who desires to grant them justice and peace".

Pope Francis encouraged the South Sudanese leaders to "seek what unites you, beginning with the fact that you belong to one and the same people, and to overcome all that divides you".

The pope commented on the uniqueness of the "spiritual retreat" co-hosted by the Secretariat of State and the offfice of Justin Welby, the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury.

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