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Urging for Peace, Pope Francis Kisses Feet of South Sudan Leaders

14 April 2019

Pope Francis, on Thursday kissed the feet of South Sudan's rival leaders at the close of a 2-day retreat in the Vatican for the African leaders.

Francis said to the two lords of war: "you, you have the peace Treaty signed, I ask as a brother, Remain in peace".

The report further noted that the pope's appeal was made even more pressing as anxiety grow in South Sudan following a coup that had taken place, which many feared will put at risk the fragile peace deal that ended South Sudan's brutal five-year civil war. But the two leaders slipping away the longer the more in control of their areas - many of its combat troops have now self-conscious Warlords at the top, which act more and more independently and financially from the civil war to profit, because they exploit the rich mineral resources of the country on their own.

Pope Francis encouraged the South Sudanese leaders to "seek what unites you, beginning with the fact that you belong to one and the same people, and to overcome all that divides you".

"Sudan labored so hard to restore peace and stability and because of that we have the current prevailing peace agreement in South Sudan and it is a guarantor", Martin Elia Lomoro, South Sudan's Cabinet affairs minister, said in a meeting with worldwide cease-fire monitors. Two years later, South Sudan plunged into its own intermittent civil war, with some 400,000 people killed and almost a third of the population uprooted.

Sudan, a largely Muslim nation, granted the largely Christian south its independence in 2011 after decades of scorched-earth fighting.

The Vatican, together with the South Sudan Council of Churches and the Rome-based Sant' Egidio worldwide peace group, brought the leaders together for prayer and preaching inside the pope's residence in an attempt to heal divisions.

The retreat was the idea of Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury, spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion, who attended the final part of the gathering.

In his address earlier on Thursday, Francis said South Sudan's people were exhausted by war and the leaders had a duty to build their young nation in justice.

Urging for Peace, Pope Francis Kisses Feet of South Sudan Leaders