Religious leaders meet Pope and commit to unite South Sudanese

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Vatican 01Religious leaders from three denominations in South Sudan have met the Pope and reiterated their commitment to work for unity and prosperity of the people of South Sudan.
In a statement released to the media, the leaders, Rev. Peter Gai Lual Marrow of South Sudan's Presbyterian Church, Paulino Lukudu Loro, Catholic Archbishop of Juba, and Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul Yak of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan, promised to promote dialogue and reconciliation.
“It was underlined that the fundamental experience of forgiveness and acceptance of the other is the privileged path to building peace and to human and social development,” said the statement.
They had been invited by Pope Francis to the Vatican to discuss the prevailing situation in the country.
Earlier, it was reported that Pope Francis had accepted an invitation to visit South Sudan to preach peace. The country has been embroiled in inter-ethnic and political strife, despite a peace deal that was signed last year between President Salva Kiir and Dr. Riek Machar.
The church leaders announced they will continue to work together so as to respond effectively to the aspirations of the people of South Sudan. The churches have been working together under the umbrella of the South Sudan Council of Churches (SSCC).
The announcement comes at a time when the UN has warned of increased cases of hate speech against certain communities in the country.
Last week, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein warned that rising ethnic rhetoric, hate speech and incitement to violence against certain ethnic groups could result in mass atrocities if not reined in by community and political leaders at the highest levels.
The SSCC Action Plan for peace specifically includes hate speech and incitement as part of the narrative that needs to be changed in South Sudan and in the Diaspora, in order to restore peace and harmony in the country.

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