A remarkable, spontaneous gesture. Breaking protocol, at the conclusion of his remarks at the end of the spiritual retreat, Pope Francis fell to his knees, kissing the feet of South Sudan’s civil authorities.
“To the three of you who signed the Peace Agreement, I ask you, as a brother, remain in peace”, the Pope said. “I ask you from the heart. Let us move forward. There will be many problems, but don’t be afraid, go forward, resolve the problems”. In impromptu remarks following his address, Pope Francis said, “You have started a process; may it end well.
Although struggles will arise, he said, these should stay “within the office”. However in public, he said, “before the people: [keep your] hands united”. In this way, the Pope said, “from simple citizens, you will become Fathers of the Nation”.
In his prepared remarks, the Holy Father reflected on “the gaze of God”, and “the gaze of the people”. He began his address with the words used by the risen Lord to greet his “disconsolate disciples”, following the resurrection: “Peace be with you!”
“Peace is the first gift that the Lord brought us”, he said, “and the first commitment that leaders of nations must pursue. Peace is the fundamental condition for ensuring the rights of each individual and the integral development of an entire people”.