Juba (EFE) the cathedral of Saint Teresa of the capital, Juba.
The Pope gathered the bishops and other religious men and women of this country, the youngest in the world since it achieved its independence from Sudan in 2011, and recalled “the tears of a people immersed in suffering and pain, martyred by the violence”, after years of war that have left more than 400,000 dead and a devastating food crisis.
«The waters of the great river, in fact, collect the heartbreaking cry of your community, the cry of pain for so many lives destroyed, the drama of a people fleeing, the affliction of the hearts of women and the fear imprinted in the eyes of children,” Francis said.
“But, at the same time, the waters of the great river evoke the story of Moses and, therefore, they are a sign of liberation and salvation,” he added about this country where 70 percent of the population professes Christianity and of these 40% Catholic.
A church for the people
The Pope warned the country’s religious not to think that “responses to the sufferings and needs of the people can be given with human instruments, such as money, cunning, power,” but that “docility” is required.
«Before the Good Shepherd, we understand that we are not the heads of a tribe, but compassionate and merciful shepherds; that we are not the owners of the town, but servants who are inclined to wash the feet of our brothers and sisters; that we are not a mundane organization that administers earthly goods, but the community of the children of God,” Francis recalled.
For this reason, in one of the poorest nations in the world, where close to 75 percent of its population lives on humanitarian aid, the Pope asserted: “Our first duty is not to be a perfectly organized Church, but a Church that, in the name of Christ, he is in the midst of the painful life of the people and he gets his hands dirty for the people».
“We must never exercise the ministry pursuing religious and social prestige, but walking in the midst and together, learning to listen and dialogue, collaborating among ourselves ministers and with the laity,” he added.
And he urged them to “intercede in favor of our people, we too are called to raise our voices against injustice and prevarication, which crush people and use violence to carry out their businesses in the shadow of conflicts.”
The work of the missionaries
He also thanked the work of the Church in this country, where there is an important work of the missionaries, “for what they do in the midst of so many trials and fatigues. Thank you, on behalf of the entire Church, for your dedication, your courage, your sacrifices and your patience.
Francis arrived in Juba after a three-day trip to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and this afternoon he will meet with internally displaced people in the country, who number almost two million people, while there are another two million South Sudanese refugees in countries like Ethiopia, Sudan and Uganda.
In this act he will be accompanied by the leader of the Anglican Church, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the moderator of the Church of Scotland, Iain Greenshields, since the country has a significant presence of Protestants.