Ambassadorial-level Meeting on South Sudan
New York, 31 January 2023
Thank you for extending an invitation for the Holy See to address this Commission as Pope Francis prepares to visit South Sudan on the 3rd to 5th of February, alongside His Grace Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Rev. Iain Greenshields, moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
My delegation has long appreciated the work of the Peacebuilding Commission, which not only understands the links between security, development and human rights but also enables States suffering or recovering from conflict to cooperate with other States on equal terms: this approach offers a means to promote mutual respect. Moreover, through political accompaniment and support for institution-building, this Commission guides governments to meet the demands of the common good, rightly recognizing that “peace is never attained once and for all, but must be built up ceaselessly.”
The Holy See has long desired to see a new era of peace and prosperity for the long-suffering people of South Sudan and has actively labored to support national reconciliation. Taking up the proposal of Archbishop Welby, Pope Francis organized a spiritual retreat for the civil and ecclesiastical authorities of South Sudan in April 2019 in Vatican City. During the retreat, which offered an occasion for encounter in a spirit of respect and trust, Pope Francis reminded leaders that “peace is possible” and encouraged them to uphold their shared responsibility to realize it as “the fundamental condition for ensuring the rights of each individual and the integral human development of an entire people.”
Last July, Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin visited South Sudan, where he met with political leaders, UN officials and those displaced by violence and the consequences of climate change, bringing assurance of Pope Francis’s closeness with them.
In a few days, Pope Francis will meet with the President and Vice Presidents in Juba, reminding them of their obligation to build peace through dialogue and forgiveness. Additionally, he will meet with civil society and internally displaced persons (IDPs) and will participate in ecumenical prayer at the John Garang Mausoleum. It is the hope of the Holy See that this Ecumenical Peace Pilgrimage provides the opportunity for leaders to recommit to peace and renew efforts to implement the Revitalized Peace Agreement.
At a time when “attempts are often made to blame religion for the various conflicts within our human family”, the case of South Sudan shows that “Christianity is a force for peace, since it encourages conversion and the exercise of virtue.” This force is especially amplified when Christians act ecumenically, demonstrating that distinct faith communities can unite in love despite differences. The efforts by the South Sudan Council of Churches to care for the poor and those at the margins have “made a significant contribution to the entire South Sudanese people,” complimenting humanitarian and development work by the UN and its Member States, for which the Holy See is grateful.
My delegation acknowledges that the peace process in South Sudan continues to experience difficulties, including intra-ethnic conflict exacerbated by climate change. In the face of these challenges, the Holy See hopes that civil leaders of South Sudan accelerate efforts to promote transparency, advance democratic norms and the rule of law and ensure that revenues from South Sudan’s abundant natural resources go towards meeting the basic needs of all citizens and improving infrastructure to unlock the full human and economic potential of the nation.
Finally, the Holy See encourages the Government to promote peace and reconciliation, as well as to move forward with the long-postponed national elections. Through efforts like these, South Sudan’s leaders can meet their responsibility to fulfill their people’s “ardent desire for justice, reconciliation and peace.”
 Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, 7 December 1965, 78.
 Pope Francis, Address to the Spiritual Retreat for Civil and Ecclesiastical Authorities of South Sudan, 3, 1.
 Pope Francis, Address to Members of the Diplomatic Corps Accredited to the Holy See, 9 January 2023.
 Pope Francis, Address to the Spiritual Retreat for Civil and Ecclesiastical Authorities of South Sudan, 3.