Pope Francis has said his staff is “studying the possibility” of a visit to South Sudan.
He said the reason was that “the Anglican, Presbyterian, and Catholic” bishops of South Sudan had come to ask him: “Please, come to South Sudan, even for a day, but don’t come alone, come with Justin Welby”, the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury.
“We are looking at whether it is possible, or if the situation down there is too dangerous. But we have to do it, because they – the three Christian communities – together desire peace, and they are working together for peace.”
The Holy Father’s words came during his Sunday visit to Rome’s All Saints Anglican Church in a question-and-answer session.
He was responding to a question from an Anglican seminarian from Nigeria, who had asked the Pope about the vitality of churches in the Southern Hemisphere.
Pope Francis said those churches are young and therefore have a certain vitality due to their youthfulness.
He also told an anecdote about Blessed Paul VI to show that “ecumenism is often easier in young churches”.
“When Blessed Paul VI beatified the Ugandan martyrs – a young Church – among the martyrs were catechists, all were young, while some were Catholics and others Anglican, and all were martyred by the same king in hate for the faith, because they refused to follow the dirty proposals of the king. And Paul VI was embarrassed, saying: ‘I should beatify both groups; they are both martyrs.’ But in that moment of the Catholic Church, such a thing was not possible.”
Responding to another question about ecumenical relations between the churches, Pope Francis said, “The relationship between Catholics and Anglicans today is good; we care for each other like brothers!”
He then gave two examples of common ground: saints and the monastic life.
“We have a common tradition of the saints… Never, never in the two Churches, have the two traditions renounced the saints: Christians who lived the Christian witness until that point. This is important.”
“There is another thing that has kept up a strong connection between our religious traditions: [male and female] monks, monasteries. And monks, both Catholic and Anglican, are a great spiritual strength of our traditions.”
By radio Vaticana
Credit: AFP PHOTO / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE & UN Photo/Mcllwaine