By Bill Heaney
Gay people “are children of God, and God loves them, he accompanies them”. The Pope’s words on his flight back from South Sudan might seem matter-of-fact to Catholics in the developed world.
In Sudan, where homosexuality is still criminalised, Pope Francis’ comments, made following a historic six-day-trip there, might yet have a far-reaching impact.
Tablet magazine reporter Christopher Lamb followed the Pope every step of the way on his tour of South Sudan. He thinks Francis’s time there has left him rejuvenated and says The Tablet’s cover story breaks down the highs and lows of this historic trip, day by day.
Historic is, as we’ve said before, a much-abused term among journalists, but we think this story really merits the tag.
An important reason why is that Pope Francis didn’t go alone.
Accompanied by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and by the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Iain Greenshields, the journey had a uniquely ecumenical air and enabled Christopher Lamb to ask Archbishop Welby, currently navigating a stormy General Synod, on his hopes for South Sudan, the thorny question of Anglican orders, and the influence Pope Francis has had on his own ministry.
And in his report, headlined View from Juba, Lamb unpacks some personal impressions of the trip: the harrowing effects of conflict in the region, and the transformation he sees building in the enhanced role for women in South Sudan.
Top picture: Pope Francis (centre) was accompanied by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and by the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Iain Greenshields.