Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, Reverend Martin Fair, signed a short joint letter on Christmas Eve, 24 December 2020, addressed to the political leaders of South Sudan. The letter stressed the humility of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ who came to serve, and encouraged the leaders to follow this example while pursuing the peace process.
A similar letter, signed by the Pope, the Archbishop and the then-Moderator of the Church of Scotland, John Chalmers, was sent to the political leaders of South Sudan last Christmas. This followed a retreat held for the country’s political and religious leaders in April 2019 hosted at Domus Sanctae Marthae by Pope Francis, the Archbishop and Reverend Chalmers. During Archbishop Welby’s visit to Rome in November 2019, the Pope and Archbishop announced their intention to visit South Sudan in 2020. Though this was not possible, this Christmas’s joint letter renews their intention to visit and the hope that when this becomes possible they will find a “changed nation” and leaders who “hold hands, united … as simple citizens” (quoting Pope Francis’s address to the leaders 11 April, 2019).
(Photo: Pope Francis and Archbishop Welby at the spiritual retreat for political and religious leaders of South Sudan, Vatican, 10-11 April 2019 © Servizio Fotografico - Vatican Media)