LAGOS, Nigeria — Pope Francis has arrived in South Sudan, on the second leg of a trip to Africa he has called “a pilgrimage of peace.”
South Sudan is the world’s youngest country with a large Catholic population, and has suffered violent conflict since the end of its civil war. The pope hopes his visit can revive its peace process.
This is the first visit by a pope since South Sudan gained independence in 2011 and while there is excitement, the trip comes with a sense of urgency. Since the majority Christian country won independence from Sudan in 2011, a civil war led to hundreds of thousands killed and millions displaced.
Despite a peace deal, violence along political and ethnic lines has continued and millions are in the grip of famine. The pope met rival leaders in 2019, kissing their feet and pleading for peace in a moment that left them stunned. Many hope his visit, alongside other Christian leaders, will help have a greater impact.
This story originally appeared in NPR’s Newscast.