In a heartfelt gesture, after an unprecedented retreat at the Vatican, Pope Francis was seen, kneeling down to kiss the feet of South Sudan leader, on Thursday, the 11th of April.
In a plea, Pope Francis advocated for peace and urged the leaders not to return to a civil war. In his appeal to President Salva Kiir, Riek Machar and other three Vice presidents, that they respect any peace agreement that they signed and commit to establishing a united government in May.
“I am asking you as a brother to stay in peace. I am asking you with my heart, let us go forward. There will be many problems but they will not overcome us. Resolve your problems,” Francis said in his remarks.
The Sudanese leaders appeared to be stunned as the 82-year-old pope, helped by aides, knelt with difficulty to kiss the shoes of the two main opposing leaders and several other people in the room.
The Vatican brought together South Sudanese leaders for 24 hours of prayer and preaching inside the pope’s residence in a last ditch attempt to heal bitter divisions a month before the war – ravaged nation is due to set up a unity government.