By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis is first of all a shepherd who makes seeking out the lost and forgotten his top priority. But he also knows that wherever he goes, the cameras and news coverage will follow.
Sister Yudith Pereira-Rico is a member of the Religious of Jesus and Mary and associate executive director of Solidarity with South Sudan. (CNS/Carol Glatz)
He leveraged his pull on the media spotlight early in his papacy when he went to Lampedusa for his very first trip as pope, tossing a funeral wreath onto the vast, unmarked cemetery known as the Mediterranean Sea — where thousands of migrants die each year escaping from economic distress, political crises or persecution.
His visits to the Central African Republic, refugee centers, prisons, homes for the elderly and ill have all been key stops in his mission to reach out to the neglected peripheries, encourage those who are suffering and the hidden heroes helping them, and wake up the world to their presence and plight.
South Sudan was meant to be next on that list, to red-flag the disastrous effects of civil war — millions of people facing violence, displacement, chronic hunger and mass starvation — and to nudge conflicting parties toward peace.
However, mounting doubts over security and how ready those parties may be for negotiation have put a boots-on-the-ground papal visit on hold. And now some Catholic aid and development agencies are wondering, with no pope, how does this tragedy get on the world radar now? Continue reading