On an unprecedented visit to the war-torn country, Pope Francis urged clergy in South Sudan to speak out against injustice.
The group is on a three-day “pilgrimage of peace” to the world’s newest nation, accompanied by the heads of the churches in England and Scotland.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, expressed his “heartbreak with sorrow” over the ongoing violence in the country.
Since its independence in 2011, South Sudan has been wracked by civil war.
Despite a peace agreement signed in 2018, ethnic tensions have fueled violence, with over 400,000 people thought to have died as a result of the conflict.
On the eve of the religious leaders’ visit, at least 20 people were killed in a cattle raid.
Pope Francis met with hundreds of South Sudan’s religious leaders at the Cathedral of Saint Therese in Juba on the first full day of his visit.
During his address, he urged them not to remain neutral, and instead speak up against “the injustice and the abuses of power that oppress”.
“If we want to be pastors who intercede, we cannot remain silent in the face of injustice and violence. Any violation of a woman’s or man’s fundamental rights is an offense against Christ.”
Archbishop Justin Welby said in Juba on Saturday, “My heart breaks, I can hardly speak, with sorrow for South Sudan.”