‘Cautious Optimism’ for Pope Francis to visit South Sudan

Il-poplu fis-Sudan t'Isfel ibati mill-gwerra ċivili li kissret il-pajjiż

Cardinal Pietro Parolin has confirmed to ZENIT that there is ‘cautious optimism’ for Pope Francis to visit South Sudan.

The Vatican Secretary of State expressed this at the “Stand Together to Defend International Religious Freedom” Symposium, April 3 in Rome, sponsored by the US Embassy to the Holy See and held at the Embassy. He was speaking to press on the sidelines, responding specifically to ZENIT’s question about the widely-speculated and awaited papal trip to the African nation which has been plagued by civil war.

Responding, the Vatican Secretary of State said: “We know the Pope wants to go there and we know the situation has improved a little, especially after the agreement was signed, and also because of the good will of the people who are involved the situation.”

Spiritual retreat

“In Italy, we say we have ‘cauto ottimismo’ (cautious optimism),” he said with a smile.

This week in the Vatican, there is a spiritual retreat for the leaders of South Sudan, affirmed April 3 the Director ad interim of the Holy See Press Office, Alessandro Gisotti.

Pope Francis has expressed his desire on various occasions to make a trip to the country, also having noting his wish to visit with the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.

Encouraging the peace process

Last week, the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, visited South Sudan. On May 2, 2018, UK Ambassador to the Holy See Sally Axworthy and representatives of the Archbishop of Canterbury for reconciliation in South Sudan met with Archbishop Paul Gallagher about furthering peace in the nation.

On March 16, Pope Francis received the nation’s president and his delegation, in the Vatican, where the Pope, according to the Vatican’s statement: “expressed the wish to ascertain the conditions for a possible visit to South Sudan, as a sign of closeness to the population and of encouragement for the peace process.”

Pope Francis will be visiting the African nations of Madagascar, Mozambique, and Mauritius, Sept. 4-10.