Pope kisses feet of South Sudan's leaders to encourage peace

Salva Kiir with Italy PM

Pope Francis kisses shoes of Sudanese leaders in plea for peace

Pope Francis kneels before President Salva Kiir of South Sudan to kiss his shoes in an appeal for the continuation of peace between former warring factions in the African nation.

He stressed, "I am asking you as a brother to stay in peace".

"May the Merciful God touch the heart of every man and every woman in South Sudan, fill them with his grace and blessings, and bring forth rich fruits of lasting peace, even as the waters of the Nile, flowing through your country, bring life and abundant growth", Pope Francis said.

"We have refugees who will not return if they don't feel secure, we have IDPs (internally displaced people) in the capital and in other major cities who will not go back to their homes which they have left five and a half years ago because of security problems", he said.

"There will be struggles, disagreements among you but keep them within you, inside the office, so to speak", Francis said in Italian as an aide translated into English.

The pope said that he is praying for the leaders for South Sudan to become peacemakers, who "build peace through dialogue, negotiation and forgiveness".

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"I never can understand why someone will let another person WHO SHOULDN'T be seen bowing to them, do so and they don't make any attempt to stop them". "But in front of the people, hold hands united".

The pope commented on the uniqueness of the "spiritual retreat" co-hosted by the Secretariat of State and the offfice of Justin Welby, the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury.

Sudan, a largely Muslim nation, granted the largely Christian south its independence in 2011 after decades of scorched-earth fighting.

In a report by Reuters, it was gathered that the event played out Thursday, April 11, during the pope's short retreat at the Vatican.

In Sudan, Defense Minister Awad Mohamed Ahmed Ibn Auf announced the end of Bashir's rule saying the country would enter a two-year period of military rule to be followed by presidential elections.

"Peace is possible", the pope told the leaders.

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