Pope Francis opens Vatican Embassy in South Sudan

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[Juba, South Sudan, TCT] On behalf of the Catholic Church in Sudan and South Sudan as well as all the people of South Sudan, I express to His Holiness’ heartfelt gratitude. This step of our Holy Father truly cools the hearts downtrodden war victims in these nations and more so His directive to set up such structure, symbolizes the honest friendly ties between South Sudan and the Holy See, what an accomplishment.

From the communication we have received from the Secretariat of the State in the Vatican, the Holy Father decided to provide for the presence of a diplomat of the Holy See in Juba. To that end, Pope Francis has given his consent to the appointment of Reverend Monsignor Mark Kedima as Counsellor of the Apostolic Nunciature in South Sudan. Monsignor Kedima Mark is a priest from the diocese of Kakamega in Kenya.

An Apostolic Nunciature or Consulate as is at the moment is a top-level diplomatic mission of the Holy See, equivalent to an embassy. The opening of the permanent site proves beyond doubt for us, the Holy Father has South Sudan closer to his Loving Heart. When South Sudan got her independence in 2011, the Holy Father immediately provided us with an Apostolic Nuncio, His Grace Charles Balvo, of Kenya to serve South Sudan. Our nation, South Sudan in Sub-Sahara African has a large Catholic following.

The Government of South Sudan has always been committed to safeguarding the welfare of every religious community in the country, including the Catholic faithful. I hope this move and the existing excellent relations between both sides would continue to grow.

In South Sudan and Sudan, our list of appreciations to Pope Francis for the great things He continues to do for us is endless. We are indeed fond of him and His greatest admirers!

I am made to believe, although he is our Catholic Leader and Vicar of Christ, he has further crossed our Catholic boundaries in love and reaching to all humanity, as such Pope Francis has captured hearts across religious -- and even non-believers.

From day one of His Papacy, He has never stopped his acts of compassion in praying for us in South Sudan and Sudan. He prays for us, donated grants, planning pastoral visit to us and now Consulate is opened. This pontiff has sparked true Charity and he is truly ours!

Pope Francis has expressed his concern for the welfare of the suffering people in Sudan and South Sudan; he will shine a light on our desperate longing for an end to this conflict, and the urgent need for a lasting peace. His presence will revive the hope we still hold in our hearts. His love for us, encourages our hope in persistent search for a peaceful and stable South Sudan and Sudan.

We are going to be committed to praying to God to make the papal visit happen. I ask all our Faithful to pray for our Beloved Pope!

Barani Eduardo Hiiboro KUSSALA, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Tombura-Yambio & President of Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference