Africa, in particular South Sudan and the problems of migration to Europe, have been at the heart of Pope Francis’ urbi et orbi message this Christmas 2019.
The situqtion in South Sudan has given rise to a new initiative with the broadcast, on the morning of December 25, of an international appeal notably co-signed by Pope Francis, Justin Welby, leader of the Anglican communion.
“We wish to formulate for you, they write, and for the people of South Sudan, our best wishes for peace and prosperity, by assuring you of our proximity to your efforts for the rapid implementation of the peace agreements”. They also ask that “the way of reconciliation and fraternity” be able to “make possible our desired visit to your dear country”.
Last November 13, Justin Welby and François had publicly expressed their desire to go to South Sudan together in 2020 if the political situation, which should lead to the establishment of a transitional government of national unity, allowed it.
Pontifex expressed closeness to people of Africa who are often forced to migrate because of persistent unjust social and political situations.
“May the Son of God, come down to earth from heaven, protect and sustain all those who, due to these and other injustices, are forced to emigrate in the hope of a secure life. It is injustice that makes them cross deserts and seas that become cemeteries. It is injustice that forces them to endure unspeakable forms of abuse, enslavement of every kind and torture in inhumane detention camps. It is injustice that turns them away from places where they might have hope for a dignified life, but instead find themselves before walls of indifference.
In particular Pope Francis mentioned the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, “torn by continuing conflicts.”
May the Redeemer, he said, “bring consolation to all who suffer because of violence, natural disasters or outbreaks of disease. And may He bring comfort to those who are persecuted for their religious faith, especially missionaries and members of the faithful who have been kidnapped, and to the victims of attacks by extremist groups, particularly in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Nigeria.”