The World

Pope entrusts peace in Africa, Ukraine and the world to St. Mary, Queen of Peace

In his last words in South Sudan, those of the Angelus, at the end of the Holy Mass with more than one hundred thousand faithful at the John Garang Mausoleum, Pope Francis entrusted "the cause of peace" in South Sudan, in Africa, and in the many countries at war, "such as the martyred Ukraine", "to our tender Mother Mary, the Queen of Peace", with a message of hope.

Francisco Otamendi / Paloma López Campos-February 5, 2023-Reading time: 5 minutes
pope south sudan

In his homily at the Mass, following the readings of this Sunday, the Holy Father wished the faithful "to be salt that spreads and dissolves generously to give flavor to South Sudan with the fraternal taste of the Gospel; to be luminous Christian communities that, like cities set on high, radiate a light of good to all and show that it is beautiful and possible to live gratuitously, to have hope, to build together a reconciled future".

"In the name of Jesus, of his Beatitudes," he added with solemn expression, "let us lay down the weapons of hatred and revenge to wield prayer and charity; let us overcome the antipathies and aversions that, over time, have become chronic and threaten to set tribes and ethnic groups against each other; let us learn to put on wounds the salt of forgiveness, which burns, but heals."

"And even if our hearts bleed because of the blows we have received, let us renounce once and for all to respond to evil with evil, and we will feel good inside; let us accept and love each other with sincerity and generosity, as God does with us. Let us take care of the good we have, let us not allow ourselves to be corrupted by evil", he strongly encouraged.

"Salt of the earth, a decisive contribution".

The Pontiff expressed his gratitude to the South Sudanese Christians, and warned them of the danger of seeing themselves as little and of being too weak.

"Today I would like to thank you for being salt of the earth in this country," he said. "However, in the face of so many wounds, of the violence that feeds the poison of hatred, of the iniquity that causes misery and poverty, it might seem to you that you are small and powerless. But, when you are tempted to feel insufficient, try looking at salt and its tiny grains; it is a small ingredient and, once put in a dish, it disappears, it dissolves, but that is precisely how it gives flavor to the whole content."

"In the same way, we Christians, even if we are fragile and small, even if our strength seems small in the face of the magnitude of the problems and the blind fury of violence, can make a decisive contribution to changing history," the Pope added.

"Jesus wants us to do it like salt: a pinch that dissolves is enough to give a different flavor to the whole. So we cannot back out, because without that little, without our little, everything loses its taste. Let us begin precisely with the little, with the essential, with that which does not appear in the history books, but changes history".

"Light of the world: let us burn with love."

Regarding Jesus' expression 'you are the light of the world', Pope Francis stressed that the Lord gives the strength for this.

"Brothers and sisters, Jesus' invitation to be the light of the world is clear. We, who are his disciples, are called to shine like a city set on high, like a lampstand whose flame must never go out," the Pope said. "In other words, before worrying about the darkness that surrounds us, before waiting for something around us to become clear, we are required to shine, to illuminate, with our life and with our works, the city, the villages and the places where we live, the people we deal with, the activities we carry out."

"The Lord gives us the strength for this, the strength to be light in Him, for everyone; because everyone must be able to see our good works and, seeing them," Jesus reminds us, "they will be open with wonder to God and will give Him glory (cf. v. 16). If we live as sons and brothers on earth, people will discover that they have a Father in heaven," the Holy Father recalled.

"We, therefore, are asked to burn with love. Let not our light be extinguished, let not the oxygen of charity disappear from our lives, let not the works of evil take away pure air from our witness. This land, so beautiful and martyred, needs the light that each one of you has, or better, the light that each one of you has," he said in his homily to the crowd of faithful gathered.

The hope of St. Josephine Bakhita

Upon his arrival at the mausoleum, Pope Francis had been able to take a few laps in the popemobile to greet the pilgrims more closely, along with Msgr. Stephen Ameyu Martin Mulla, Archbishop of Juba, capital of the country.

At the conclusion of the Eucharistic Celebration, the Pope addressed the faithful to express his "gratitude for the welcome received and for all the work you have done to prepare for this visit, which was a fraternal visit of three. I thank all of you, brothers and sisters, who have come in great numbers from different places, spending many hours - even days - on the road. In addition to the affection you have shown me, I thank you for your faith, your patience, all the good you do and all the fatigue you offer to God without getting discouraged, in order to keep going forward".

The Holy Father's final message, following the Angelus, was one of hope. saint Josephine Bakhitaciting Benedict XVIand then in the Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace.

"In South Sudan there is a courageous Church, related to that of Sudan, as the Archbishop reminded us, who mentioned the figure of St. Josephine Bakhita, a great woman who, with the grace of God, transformed her suffering into hope," the Pope said. "'The hope that had been born in her and had "redeemed" her could not be kept for herself alone; this hope had to reach many, to reach everyone,' wrote Benedict XVI (Encyclical Letter, "The Hope that was born in her"). Spe Salvi, 3).

"Hope is the word I would like to leave with each of you, as a gift to share, as a seed that bears fruit. As the figure of St. Josephine reminds us, hope, especially here, is found in the sign of the woman and for this I would like to thank and bless in a special way all the women of the country".

"To hope I would like to associate another word. It has been the word that has accompanied us these days: peace. With my brothers Justin and Iain, whom I thank from the bottom of my heart, we have come here and we will continue to accompany your steps, the three of us together, doing everything possible to make them steps of peace, steps towards peace.

"May hope and peace dwell in you."

The Roman Pontiff then referred to the Virgin Mary, and entrusted the cause of peace to her. "I would like to entrust this journey of all the people with the three of us, this journey of reconciliation and peace to another woman. I am referring to our tender Mother Mary, the Queen of Peace. She accompanied us with her solicitous and silent presence".

"To her, to whom we now pray, we entrust the cause of peace in South Sudan and on the entire African continent. To Our Lady we also entrust peace in the world, in particular the many countries at war, such as the martyred Ukraine."

"Dear brothers and sisters, we return, each one of us three to our headquarters, carrying them even more present in our hearts. I repeat, they are in our hearts, they are in our hearts, they are in the hearts of Christians all over the world!".

"Never lose hope. And do not miss the opportunity to build peace. May hope and peace dwell in you. May hope and peace dwell in South Sudan."

This is how Pope Francis concluded his words, before giving the final blessing, and heading to Juba international airport for the flight back to Rome, in a visit days that had begun at the Democratic Republic of the Congo with numerous meetingssuch as the one that took place with victims of violence.

In the hearts of the South Sudanese people and the world, the reception of the president of the Republic, Salva Kiir Mayardit and the other authorities, the historical ecumenical prayer with the Archbishop of Canterbury and Anglican Primate, Justin Welby, and the Moderator of the general assembly of the Church of Scotland, Presbyterian pastor Iain Greenshields; his meetings with refugees and displaced persons, and with the bishopsand consecrated persons in the country; or their calls to prayer and to follow the example of Jesus, Prince of the Paz.

The authorFrancisco Otamendi / Paloma López Campos

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