The Archbishop of Canterbury has said “my heart breaks with sorrow for South Sudan” amidst ongoing violence and sectarian conflict in the country.
Preaching at All Saints Anglican Cathedral in Juba this morning, the Archbishop urged those who have committed “secret crimes and evil deeds” to ask for God’s mercy and transformation and prayed they would know the “infinite love of Christ”.
The Archbishop is currently on a historic three-day Pilgrimage for Peace to South Sudan with Pope Francis and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland.
The day before the pilgrimage began on Friday, 27 people were killed in a raid in Kajo-Kiji, amid ongoing sectarian violence in the country.
In his sermon this morning Archbishop said: “Whoever you are here, whatever you have done in your life, if there are secret crimes and evil deeds that nobody else knows, God knows your heart. And He kneels before you. God in Jesus kneels before you, and he says: ‘Will you let me wash you?’ When he washes us we are changed.”
To cheers from thousands gathered outside the Cathedral, the Archbishop said: “My heart breaks, I can hardly speak, with sorrow for South Sudan. I beg that at every level, from the President to the smallest child, that people find the mercy of God and are transformed, and that there is peace and good government. That no one steals money. That no one kills their neighbour for cattle.
He added: “There is a darkness over South Sudan and many other countries in this world. But the light is not overcome by the darkness. The people of Christ are the light of this nation.
“If South Sudan finds peace, the world will find hope. The women in Congo will rejoice if you find peace. The refugees in Myanmar will rejoice if you find peace. The soldiers in Ukraine will rejoice if you find peace. Because you will show that God is great.
“With God, South Sudan has hope, and that hope is when its people take courage. And the courage is to live the scandalous Gospel of the infinite love of Christ.”
Later today the Archbishop, the Pope and the Moderator will meet with people displaced by conflict in South Sudan before addressing a joint open-air Prayer Vigil for Peace at John Garang Mausoleum in Juba.
Yesterday the three Christian leaders met with South Sudan’s political leaders and each issued calls for peace to South Sudan’s leaders gathered at the Presidential Palace in Juba.
The joint pilgrimage by leaders of Roman Catholic, Anglican and Reformed traditions is the first visit of its kind in history.
Read the entire sermon from the service at All Saint's here >>
Read more about the Ecumenical Pilgrimage of Peace to South Sudan here.
- Flickr album with a selection of ABC photos HERE
- Credit for the above photos: Andrew O'Brien
- More photos and video are available from news agencies covering the visit as well as from the Vatican Press Office.