Archbishop Welby & Rev. Greenshields send apologies to South Sudan
By Devin Watkins
All three members of a scheduled ecumenical visit to South Sudan have expressed their hopes to make the postponed journey as soon as possible.
Pope Francis was due to visit the African nation with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland on 5-7 July. However, the Pope had to postpone his Apostolic Journey due to treatment for severe knee pain.
In separate video messages sent on Saturday, all three Christian leaders sent their greeting and apologies to the people of South Sudan.
Solidarity in hope for peace
Archbishop Welby posted his video message to Twitter and said he is “so deeply sorry that it has not been possible to make our planned pilgrimage of peace to South Sudan next week.”
The head of the Anglican Communion invited everyone to join him in prayer for Pope Francis and a speedy recovery, so that the visit may take place soon.
Archbishop Welby recalled his 2014 visit to South Sudan, and said the country has been in his heart and prayers ever since.
“You’re full of great vibrancy, courage, resilience. You are children of God, seen by God, chosen by God, called by God,” he said. “Yet, I see and know that you have suffered. I see the floods that endanger your homes. I see the famine that makes each day a struggle. And I see the violence that overshadows all of life. Many of you cannot return to your homes. God sees and know that. God’s heart of compassion is moved by your struggles.”
Archbishop Welby said Pope Francis and Moderator Iain “want to stand in solidarity with you in your hope for peace.”
Peace, he reminded South Sudan’s leaders, must be “created together with your fellow leaders so that all may flourish.”
Thoughts and prayers
In a separate video message, Rt. Rev. Dr. Iain Greenshields sent warm greetings from Scotland.
The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland said he too looks forward to the time when the three Christian leaders will be able to make their “pilgrimage of peace.”
“We very much look forward to that opportunity,” he said, “and we would like you to know that you are very much in our thoughts and in our prayers during these difficult times that you're having to experience.”
Dr. Greenshields concluded by expressing his hope that they might visit soon “and in some way serve and help you.”