The ‘Pope for South Sudan’ is the Vatican-backed initiative which will donate about half a million dollars to help those suffering in war-torn South Sudan.
Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, the prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development presented the initiative “The Pope for South Sudan” at 11.30 today, June 21, 2017, at a press conference on the project in the Holy See Press Office.
Speaking with him were Dr. Michel Roy, Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis; Sr. Laura Gemignani, Nzara General Hospital, South Sudan; Sr. Yudith Pereira-Rico, associate executive director of Solidarity with South Sudan.
In his remarks, Cardinal Turkson discussed the intervention supported by the Holy Father in favour of the population of South Sudan, called “The Pope for South Sudan”.
The war in South Sudan, the African cardinal explained, continues to claim victims. In 2013, the conflict began and caused a very grave humanitarian crisis that sees more than half the population, around 7.3 million people, suffer from hunger on a daily basis. The life of thousands of people has been put at risk by an unprecedented cholera epidemic; a million and a half inhabitants have been forced to flee their villages and cities as a result of the war; in this country massacres and atrocities take place, systematic and generalized, perpetrated against civilians for ethnic reasons; and women and children are victims of violence and abuse every day.”
Universal Pastor Showing Solidarity
As a universal Pastor, Cardinal Turkson stressed, Pope Francis is a universal pastor who overcomes boundaries.
“He feels the pressing need to raise awareness among the international community of this silent drama, calling for greater and renewed efforts to reach a peaceful solution to the conflict,” he said.
“The Pope wanted to make tangible”–the Ghanaian prelate stressed–“the Church’s presence and closeness to the afflicted people through this initiative, that aims to foster, support and encourage the work of the various religious congregations and international aid organizations present in the territory and which work tirelessly to help the population and to promote the process of development and peace.”
Concrete Initiatives in 3 Realms
Through this Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, the Pope is launching initiatives in three main areas:
Health: “Two projects are in the field of health. These are two hospitals run by the Comboni Missionary Sisters operating in South Sudan: the Wau Hospital, and the Nzara Hospital.”
Education: “One project concerns the field of education: through the association “Solidarity with South Sudan”, it is intended to provide two-year scholarships for students to enable them to obtain a Master’s degree primary school teaching at the Solidarity Teacher Training Centre in Yambio.”
Agriculture: “In the field of agriculture, a project run by Caritas Internationalis that involves around 2,500 families in the dioceses of Yei, Tombura-Yambio and Torit, through tools to encourage farming and livestock breeding, aiming to increase the capacity of local communities to sustain themselves.”
Does Not Forget, Will Visit
“The Holy Father,” Cardinal Turkson stressed, “does not forget the unheard and silent victims of this bloody and inhuman conflict, and he does not forget all those people who are forced to flee their native country as a result of abuse, injustice and war – he remembers them all in his prayers and in his heart.”
Pope Francis, the cardinal also reiterated, “firmly hopes to be able to make an official visit to the country as soon as possible.”
“The Church does not give up hope in such a troubled territory; but instead urges bold choices and belief that Divine Providence is capable of achieving what in the eyes of the world seems unreal or impossible.”
Lamenting that while attempts to bring some peace must be achieved, in order to plan a trip, he stressed the Holy See continues to do all it can to stop the fighting in South Sudan.
If this can be done, a visit by the Pope and by Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, will take place.
Greg Burke, director of the Holy See Press Office, in recent months had noted that the conditions in the African nation did not permit for an October 2017 visit as hoped, and therefore, the visit is not expected to take place until at least 2018.