After Holy Mass on Sunday, 5 February, Pope Francis again addressed the faithful gathered in Juba’s John Garang Mausoleum. He thanked them for their warm welcome to South Sudan and reiterated his closeness and prayers for the country. The following is the English text of the Holy Father’s words.
hank you, dear brother Stephen, for your kind words. I greet the President of the Republic, as well as the civil and religious authorities present.
I have now come to the end of this pilgrimage among you, and I want to express my gratitude for the warm welcome given me and for all the work done to prepare for this visit, which was a fraternal visit of three.
I am grateful to all of you, brothers and sisters, who have come here in great numbers from various places, spending many hours, if not days, on the road! I thank you for the affection you have shown me, but also for your faith and your patience, for the good you do and the hardships that you willingly offer to God without growing discouraged but continuing to move forward. South Sudan possesses a courageous Church, with close ties to the Church in Sudan, as the Archbishop noted in referring to Saint Josephine Bakhita, a great woman who by God’s grace transformed into hope all the sufferings that she endured. As Pope Benedict observed: “The hope born in her which had ‘redeemed’ her she could not keep to herself; this hope had to reach many, to reach everybody” (Spe Salvi, 3). Hope is the word I would leave with each of you, as a gift to share, a seed to bear fruit. As Saint Josephine reminds us, women, especially here, are a sign of hope, and in a special way I thank and bless all the women of the country.
To hope, I would associate another word, the word that has echoed in these days: peace. I came here with my brothers Justin and Iain, whom I sincerely thank; the three of us jointly will continue to accompany your steps and do all we can to make them steps of peace, steps to peace. I would like to entrust this path of the entire people together with the three of us, this path of reconciliation and peace, to another woman. She is our most loving Mother Mary, Queen of Peace. She has accompanied us with her caring and quiet presence. We pray to her now, and we entrust to her the cause of peace in South Sudan and in the entire African continent. To Our Lady we also entrust peace in our world, especially in the many countries at war, like Ukraine, which suffers so greatly.
Dear brothers and sisters, the three of us are returning to our own homes, with you even closer to our hearts. Let me repeat: you are in our hearts, you are in our hearts, you are in the hearts of Christians worldwide! Never lose hope. And lose no opportunity to build peace. May hope and peace dwell among you. May hope and peace dwell in South Sudan!