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They spoke about a wide variety of topics at the meeting: peace, poverty, and vocations in each country. The apostolic nuncios in both countries joined the meeting, which finished with a traditional group photo.
Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Juba, Paulino Lukudu Loro, said Pope Francis accepted to visit the two countries at an appropriate time which was not however fixed.
“He said: I am ready. I want to. I want to. I want to. But we have to leave everything in the hands of the Lord,” Archbishop Paulino Lukudu quoted Pope Francis as saying.
He told Vatican Radio’s 105Live the “issue of peace” is still a priority in both countries, especially South Sudan, “because we are at war.”
South Sudan, which split from the Sudan in 2011, has been in civil war for the last two years since December 2013, and the violence has created more than a million refugees and internally displaced people. The new civil war has killed tens of thousands of people.
“Without peace, religion has difficulties,” Archbishop Loro said, adding that the church must also address the issue of vacant dioceses, as well as providing support for the local clergy.
“We must discuss with our superiors in the Congregation [for the Evangelization of People] about how to proceed and accomplish our goals,” the Archbishop said. “There are many questions from us on how to proceed.”
The Catholic Church in South Sudan has one archdiocese, and six suffragan dioceses. The bishops are members of the Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference, which includes the bishops from Sudan.
Catholics make up over a third of the population in South Sudan and make up just over 3% of the population in Sudan, where the vast majority of the people are Muslims.
Pope John Paul II visited Khartoum in 1993 at the height of the civil war between the mainly Muslim north and the animist and Christian south, denouncing the use of violence in the name of religion.