“You are in my heart, you are in our hearts, you are in the hearts of Christians around the world! Never lose hope. And lose no opportunity to build peace.”
The papal plane departed from Juba’s International Airport at 11:56am local time, carrying the Pope and over 70 journalists for the return trip to Rome.
The Pope is scheduled to arrive in Rome at around 5:15am local time.
Over the past six days, Pope Francis has sought to bring a message of consolation and hope for the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.
He spoke forcefully and frequently about the need for every person to foster peace in their own lives and in their nations.
His first public words in DR Congo set the tone for the rest of his visit, as he spoke to the country’s civil authorities.
“This country, so immense and full of life, this diaphragm of Africa, struck by violence like a blow to the stomach, has seemed for some time to be gasping for breath.”
Though each speech was destined for a different audience, Pope Francis laced them together with an exhortation to cease all violence in the two nations, reinforcing his public words with gestures of closeness.
Huge crowds turned out for his public Masses: over a million people celebrated with him in DR Congo’s capital, Kinshasa, and some 100,000 faithful gathered with him in Juba, around a fifth of the population of South Sudan’s capital.