TRENDING: Pope kisses feet of rival South Sudan leaders

TRENDING: Pope kisses feet of rival South Sudan leaders

Onlookers were stunned on Thursday when Pope Francis knelt and kissed the feet of South Sudan's rival leaders in an wonderful act of humility aimed at promoting peace and to encourage unity among Africa countries torn by war.

Progress in implementing the peace agreement in South Sudan has been "way short" of expectations, the body responsible for monitoring it said on Friday, a day after Pope Francis urged the warring factions to achieve a lasting peace.

According to DailyMail, the Pope encouraged the rival leaders, President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar to strengthen the country's peace process. South Sudan plunged into civil war two years later after Kiir, a Dinka, fired Machar, from the Nuer ethnic group, from the vice presidency.

"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. It remains to be seen whether his ouster will imperil the peace deal.

Pope Francis kneels to kiss the feet of South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit at the Vatican on Thursday.

"Sudan has helped us with the peace deal".

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Peace is possible. I shall never tire of repeating this: peace is possible!

After "so much death, hunger, hurt and tears", the pope said, the retreat participants "have clearly heard the cry of the poor and the needy; it rises up to heaven, to the very heart of God our father, who desires to grant them justice and peace".

South Sudan's conflict began 2 years after it gained independence from Sudan in 2011. "But in front of the people, hold hands united". Welby had proposed the idea of the retreat to the pope.

"Upon all the Christians of South Sudan who, in helping those in greatest need, bind up the wounds of Jesus' body, I implore God's abundant graces and assure them of a constant remembrance in my prayers", Pope Francis said.

"Peace is the first gift that the Lord brought us, and the first commitment that leaders of nations must pursue".

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