As Cardinal Michael Czerny departed for South Sudan, he told sources that his visit marks the first anniversary of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Journey and seeks to renew the Church’s closeness to the nation, especially to victims of human trafficking.
Due to travel to South Sudan on February 2-9, to mark one year since Pope Francis’s Apostolic Visit to the country, the Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, said he hopes to bring with him a message of hope.
“In a sense”, Cardinal Czerny said in an interview with a source ahead of his departure, “it’s a repetition of the message brought by Pope Francis one year ago.” He expressed his hope that his presence and words will show South Sudanese that they must not give up hope, even when things are not going well.
“I think the bishops invited me because they felt that this all-important message of a year ago needs to be restated, at least with as much vigour as we can,” he said.
Since the Pope often speaks of concrete actions, the Cardinal described some of the tangible outcomes he hopes will come from his visit.
“One of the concrete outcomes is support for the millions—10 million people—displaced on the other side of the border, the border with Sudan.”
He mentioned the hope that comes with the inauguration and blessing of a new boat, during his visit to the town of Renk, which lies on the border with Sudan.
The afforementioned boat will help transport migrants across the perilous Nile River separating the two countries.
“That should make it possible and less dangerous,” he explained. Many Sudanese have reportedly sought refuge in South Sudan as their country continues to face terrible violence and war.
Cardinal Czerny also hopes the visit will remind countries to make peace for the good of their people.
“We do not make peace by raising walls and by making it difficult and dangerous for those who, for every good reason on earth, are seeking the minimum security; we then make their access difficult,” he stressed. On the contrary, “we should open our doors, our hearts, and also our capacities, so that they can find safety, without which human life is basically impossible”, he continued.
The Cardinal is due to celebrate Mass in the Church of Saint Josephine Bakhita on the World Day of Prayer and Reflection Against Human Trafficking on February 8.
Cardinal Czerny said he has been devoted to St. Bakhita “for all these years that I’ve been working with my colleagues on human trafficking and modern slavery,” adding, “I feel like I’m going to meet her at home for the first time, and it makes me very happy.”
He finally asked for prayers “that this will be a pilgrimage of peace, in the footsteps of the Holy Father.”
In conclusion, the Cardinal said “…join me in renewing our hope in not giving up. May we never lose hope: hope for peace.’