Moderator reflects on ‘extraordinary’ papal trip

The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has returned from his ‘pilgrimage of peace’ with Pope Francis to South Sudan.

The ecumenical trip to country, which has been mired by conflict and human rights abuses, included the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Around 60% of South Sudan’s population is reportedly Christian, being mostly made up of Catholics, Anglicans, and Presbyterians.

Moderator Rev Dr Greenshields called the trip ‘the most extraordinary few days’ which aimed to ‘help resolve the most tragic of circumstances where there is violence and no peace.’

A recent United Nations report described the ‘hellish existence for women and girls’ in South Sudan with widespread sexual violence being perpetrated by armed groups across the country.

Furthermore, an estimated eight million people are expected to experience food insecurity this year and two million people having been displaced in the country.

“We had various different huge meetings with the people [of South Sudan]. We also had private meetings with the leadership of South Sudan,” Rev Dr Greenshields said.

“We’ve done what we can; we’ve done what we set out to do. Now the rest is up to the leadership of South Sudan to make the difference.”

Rev Dr Greenshields said the South Sudanese government had indicated their willingness to make changes, but said that ‘talk alone is not enough, action must follow what has happened.’

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