News / Africa

New Pope Gives South Sudanese Hope

  • "It doesn’t matter if he's from Africa, from Argentina, or from where as long as he has that spirit of leading the people." Ben Benjamin, Munuki, Juba

    Newly elected Pope Francis, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina appears on the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, March 13, 2013.
  • "Before, the pope was selected from Europe, but now it is out of Europe – inside South America. So we have that hope that maybe one day, one time, it will come slowly, slowly until it will reach Africa." Tony Garang, Juba
    Newly elected Pope Francis waves from the steps of the Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica in Rome, March 14, 2013.
  • "I just want him to do what the other pope didn’t do. Where [Benedict XVI] stopped, let [Francis] start..." Zaituni Mahmoud, Gudele, Juba

    White smoke rises from the chimney on the Sistine Chapel indicating that a new pope has been elected at the Vatican, March 13, 2013.
  • Crowds cheer as white smoke rises from the chimney above the Sistine Chapel, indicating a new pope has been elected at the Vatican, March 13, 2013.
  • "What I expect him to do most is, for us Africans, he has to support our rights… and he has to join us in the fight against gay and lesbian marriage. We as Africans – we can’t support that." Zaituni Mahmoud, Gudele, Juba

    Pope Francis waves to the crowd from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica, the Vatican, March 13, 2013.
  • "He has to work hard and unite all the churches and leaders in the world so that people live in peace and harmony." Jimmy Jackson, Kator, Juba

    Newly elected Pope Francis makes a private visit to the 5th-century Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, in a photo released by Osservatore Romano in Rome, March 14, 2013.
  • A nun takes a photograph of the first batch of souvenirs adorned with freshly-printed pictures of the newly-elected Pope Francis in a shop at the Vatican, March 14, 2013.
New Pope Sparks New Hopes in South Sudan
Mugume Davis Rwakaringi
South Sudanese added their voices to the round-the-world chorus welcoming Pope Francis, saying the choice of the archbishop of Buenos Aires to lead the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics fills them with hope.

Many expressed the hope that the new pope will uphold the church's morals and traditions, and some said they see the election of the first pope from the Americas as a first step toward having a pontiff from Africa.

But for the most part, South Sudanese expressed the hope that the new pontiff would serve as a unifying and guiding moral force in the church.

South Sudanese follow mainly traditional religions or Christianity, unlike the people of Sudan who are predominantly Muslim. South Sudan became independent from Sudan in July 2011, six years after a comprehensive peace agreement ended a 22-year civil war.

Around a quarter of South Sudan's population of 8.26 million is Roman Catholic -- a higher ratio than in Africa as a whole, where 16 percent of the population is Catholic.

President Salva Kiir is one of the country's best known Catholics and has pledged at St. Theresa Cathedral in Juba that South Sudan will respect people's right to worship as they choose.


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