This morning (Tuesday 31 February) Archbishop Cushley reflected on the upcoming Apostolic Journey of Pope Francis to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, on BBC Radio Scotland's Thought for the Day. Listen below or on YouTube. Scroll down for transcript.
I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but the United Kingdom has an Ambassador in the Vatican.
Diplomatic relations were established between Britain and the Holy See in 1982, and those relations are very cordial.
The British Ambassador to the Holy See is Chris Trott. But while he’s an ambassador like any other, his mission is a little different because the Vatican is a mission like no other.
I met Chris a couple of years ago, just as he was starting his new job, and he told me that he had been working previously in South Sudan, and that he had considered the job of Britain’s Ambassador to the Holy See partly because of the work he had seen the Church doing to build peace in that troubled country.
Of course, the Vatican doesn’t use armies or tanks or planes to put an end to war. Rather, whatever influence it has on the world stage, it tries to use for the common good.
That’s why Pope Francis is going to the Congo and then South Sudan in a couple of days’ time.
South Sudan only became an independent nation in 2011, breaking away from Sudan itself. But since then it has been in the grip of what Human Rights Watch describes as intercommunal conflict and abuses by security forces and armed groups that are exacting an ‘horrific toll on civilians’.
The United Nations adds that the food insecurity in South Sudan is the worst it’s been since the country’s independence.
This is why Pope Francis wants to go there.
As South Sudan is largely a Christian country, he will be accompanied by Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Iain Greenshields, the Moderator of the Church of Scotland in an ecumenical Pilgrimage of Peace.
And all three are going there to urge men of violence to come back to the negotiating table, and for the good of their own people.
I personally don’t know if Britain’s ambassador had a hand in bringing all these important figures together, but either way, we ought to wish them all well as they strive to bring peace to a troubled corner of the world.