Pope Francis urged the people and leaders of Congo and South Sudan on Saturday to “turn a page” and forge new paths of reconciliation, peace and development.
Francis issued a video message on the day he had planned to begin a weeklong pilgrimage to the two African countries. He canceled the scheduled trip last month because of knee pain that makes walking and standing difficult.
In the message, Francis said he was “greatly disappointed” to not be able to travel and promised to visit “as soon as possible.”
He urged the people of both countries not to allow themselves to be robbed of hope despite the violence, political instability, exploitation and poverty that he said had pained them for so long.
“You have a great mission, all of you, beginning with your political leaders: It is that of turning a page in order to blaze new trails, new paths of reconciliation and forgiveness, of serene coexistence and of development,” Francis said.
He said political leaders owed the pursuit of such goals to young people who dream of peace “and deserve to see those dreams come true”
“For their sake, above all, it is necessary to lay down arms, to overcome all resentment, and to write new pages of fraternity,” the pope said.
He was joined in issuing separate video messages by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the moderator of the Church of Scotland, Right Rev. Dr. Iain Greenshields, who were supposed to have accompanied Francis on the South Sudan leg of the trip. In their messages, they expressed disappointment that the visit had to be postponed but urged South Sudanese to nevertheless keep working for peace.
“Peace requires much more than not being at war. It must be created together, with your fellow leaders and…