According to Paolo Impagliazzo, who was present at the ceremony in his capacity as secretary general and South Sudan delegate for the Rome-based Sant’Egidio community, Catholics in the country “are really waiting for the visit of Pope Francis.”
The pope has taken a keen interest in South Sudan, appealing often for peace and organizing days of prayer to end the conflict. In April 2019 he invited both the South Sudanese president and the opposition leader to a retreat at the Vatican, where he made headlines by kissing their feet while pleading for peace.
“Politically, I think (the fact) that we now have vice presidents is a step forward in the formation of the transitional government. So the situation is better than before,” he said, noting how in their speeches at the swearing-in both Kiir and Machar thanked Pope Francis and Sant’Egidio, the pope’s favorite of the so-called “new movements,” for their role in mediating the peace deal.