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Pope’s health causes postponement of joint trip to South Sudan

10 June 2022


Pope Francis during an audience on Saturday with members of the Granatieri di Sardegna Brigade engaged supporting the Italian police

Pope Francis during an audience on Saturday with members of the Granatieri di Sardegna Brigade engaged supporting the Italian police

THE joint trip to South Sudan by the Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland (News, 30 May) has been postponed, it was announced on Friday.

The director of the Vatican’s press office, Matteo Bruni, released the statement: “At the request of his doctors, and in order not to jeopardise the results of the therapy that he is undergoing for his knee, the Holy Father has been forced to postpone, with regret, his Apostolic Journey to the Democratic Republic of Congo and to South Sudan, planned for 2 to 7 July, to a later date to be determined.”

Archbishop Justin Welby responded: “I am praying for my dear brother Pope Francis, and share his regret that our visit to South Sudan with the Church of Scotland Moderator is postponed.

“I continue to pray for the people of South Sudan in their challenges and hopes for peace, and look forward to making this historic visit at a later date.”

A Lambeth Palace spokesperson said that they were in touch with the Episcopal Church of South Sudan “to discuss next steps that will encourage peace for the people of South Sudan”.

The Scottish Moderator, the Rt Revd Dr Iain Greenshields, said: “I am very sorry to hear that Pope Francis has been forced to postpone our historic Ecumenical Pilgrimage of Peace to South Sudan for health reasons, and I hope that he makes a speedy recovery and he is assured that our prayers are with him.”

The joint visit was first mooted in 2017 (News, 3 March 2017) and was intended to take place later that year. But political unrest and factional violence led to the trip’s postponement until now.

During his Angelus message on Sunday, Pope Francis apologised to the authorities in the DRC and South Sudan for the postponement of the visits, and said that he hoped that they could be rescheduled as soon as possible, Vatican News reports.

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