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Pope ends South Sudan visit as thousands attend mass

Pope Francis has ended his peace pilgrimage to South Sudan by celebrating an open air mass attended by tens of thousands in Juba.

He urged the congregation to reject what he called the “venom of hatred”, and told them to lose no opportunity to build peace.

The Pope also pleaded with the country’s leaders to focus on ending conflict.

Photo Credit: Reuters

The pope Before leaving told the crowd: “Dear brothers and sisters, I return to Rome with you even closer to my heart.”

Excited Catholics, some who camped overnight for the Mass, told Reuters it was a joyful moment.

The Mass, which took place at the John Garang Mausoleum in front of an audience of 70,000 according to estimates, was filled with cheerful worshippers waiving flags and deep in prayer.

Photo Credit: Reuters

BBC reports that despite a peace deal in 2018, violence driven by ethnic tensions has continued – more than 400,000 people are thought to have died as a result of the conflict.

At least 20 people were killed in a cattle raid on the eve of the religious leaders’ visit.

Writing by Chinasa Ossai