Cardinal Michael Czerny Visits South Sudan: Advocating for Peace

09 March 2024|JRS East Africa - Paula Casado Aguirregabiria

In a significant gesture of solidarity and advocacy for peace, Cardinal Michael Czerny, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, embarked on a journey to South Sudan. His visit, which took place in February, was marked by meetings with key figures like  the President of the Republic, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, and various Catholic religious groups. These visits helped highlighting the Church’s commitment to promoting integral human development and peace in the country.

The cardinal’s visit held particular significance as it followed the honorable visit of Pope Francis to South Sudan in February 2023. His mission was to assess the progress made by the country since the Pope’s visit, as well as to urge for sustained efforts towards peace, especially in light of the upcoming democratic elections scheduled for 2024 (the first democratic elections in the country’s history)

South Sudan, the youngest country in the world, is poised to hold its first democratic elections in history. However, this historical event is surrounded with concerns about potential instability, particularly given the ongoing humanitarian crisis triggered by the conflict in its neighbouring country, Sudan. More than half a million of displaced individuals seek refuge in South Sudan, adding to the complexity of the situation.

During his visit to South Sudan, Cardinal Czerny did not confine himself to the corridors of power in the capital, Juba. He ventured further, traveling to Renk, a town situated on the border between Sudan and South Sudan. In Renk, he joined a team from the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) to meet with displaced people and gain firsthand insights into their struggles.

In Renk, Cardinal Czerny engaged with displaced families, offering words of hope, prayers, and faith. His presence provided encouragement amid the challenges faced by these vulnerable communities. Additionally, he met with Catholic Parish Council Members and the Governor of Renk, underlining the importance of collaboration between religious institutions and local authorities in fostering peace and addressing humanitarian needs.

In an interview with Vatican News, Cardinal Czerny reiterated the urgency of addressing the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan and emphasized the pivotal role of faith-based organizations in providing assistance and advocating for peace. His visit served as a reminder of the Church’s unwavering commitment to promoting integral human development and standing in solidarity with the marginalized and displaced.

As South Sudan navigates the path towards democratic governance and strives to overcome the complexities of its humanitarian challenges, Cardinal Michael Czerny’s visit stands as a testament to the power of compassion, dialogue, and faith in fostering peace and reconciliation in the region.

“We thank Cardinal Michael Czerny for his visit, his prayers, his efforts and his words of wisdom to us and to the peoples of South Sudan. May he be blessed and let’s pray for a durable and stable peace and instability in the country”. – JRS/East Africa