West & Central Africa

Pope and Archbishop abandon South Sudan visit over security fears

Pope Francis’ visit to South Sudan together with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, scheduled to take place in October this year, has been cancelled because the region is considered “too dangerous” according to a statement from the Vatican (Tuesday 30 May).

Greg Burke, Vatican’s spokesman said the arrangements for the trip had reviewed and said the visit could not take place this year.

The Catholic Archbishop of the South Sudan, Paulino Loro, had announced that arrangements were being made to welcome Pope Francis and Archbishop Welby on October 15 after a delegation of bishops from both Sudan and South Sudan visited the Pontiff in Rome where they extended an invitation to Francis.

An earlier news report by Il Messaggero said Pope Francis reluctantly cancelled the trip “after the information coming to his desk” from a delegation that went to South Sudan to assess the security situation which eventually “left him with few alternatives.”

South Sudan the world’s youngest nation was plunged into chaos and crisis shortly after independence in 2011. The ethnic conflict has killed about 300,000 people and displaced over three million. The United Nations report, in April, says government forces have been involved in ethnic cleansing.

Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Colombia on 6-10 September this year and may also go to Bangladesh and India.