The Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland have written a joint letter to the political leaders of South Sudan to urge them to do more to bring about peace in their nation.


In their letter Pope Francis, the Most Revd Justin Welby and Jim Wallace describe the people of South Sudan as continuing to endure living in fear and uncertainty and say that achieving peace “may require personal sacrifice from you as leaders”.


The letter marks the tenth anniversary of the independence of South Sudan and follows a retreat given in 2019 by Archbishop Welby at the invitation of Pope Francis for South Sudan’s political and church leaders. The Anglican Centre in Rome was also involved in behind the scenes talks which got the gathering off the ground.


The three leaders wrote: “We recall with joy and thanksgiving the historic meeting of the political and religious leaders of South Sudan at the Vatican in 2019 and the weighty promises made on that occasion. We pray that those promises will shape your actions, so that it will become possible for us to visit and celebrate with you and your people in person, honouring your contributions to a nation that fulfils the hopes of 9 July 2011. In the meantime, we invoke upon you and all in South Sudan God’s blessings of fraternity and peace.”


After decades of war against successive ruling regimes in Sudan, the southern part of the country came into existence as an independent nation on 9 July 2011, but conflict has continued with progress in implementing the peace agreement which was signed in 2018 and ended the civil war that began in 2013 being slow.


Continuing violence and poor living conditions continue to plague the people of South Sudan, although there has been some improvement, acknowledged in the three religious leaders’ letter. But, they write, “much more needs to be done in South Sudan to shape a nation that reflects God’s kingdom, in which the dignity of all is respected and all are reconciled.” They promise that they will stand in solidarity with the South Sudanese: “we wish you to know that we stand alongside you as you look to the future and seek to discern afresh how best to serve all the people of South Sudan.”