Pope Francis pulls out of ecumenical peace pilgrimage to South Sudan

(Photo: Vatican News)

Pope Francis will no longer be travelling to Africa in July due to worsening knee pain, the Vatican has announced.

He has withdrawn from his planned apostolic visit to South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo next month on the advice of his doctors. 

The visit was due to include an ecumenical peace pilgrimage to South Sudan undertaken jointly with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland General Assembly. 

"At the request of his doctors and in order not to jeopardize the results of the therapy that he is undergoing for his knee, the Holy Father has been forced to postpone, with regret, his Apostolic Journey," said Vatican spokesperson Matteo Bruni.

The statement added that the visit would be rescheduled at a later date.

Responding to the announcement, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said: "I am praying for my dear brother Pope Francis and share his regret that our visit to South Sudan with the Church of Scotland Moderator is postponed.

"I continue to pray for the people of South Sudan in their challenges and hopes for peace, and look forward to making this historic visit at a later date."

A Lambeth Palace spokesperson added: "We are in touch with the Episcopal Church of South Sudan to discuss next steps that will encourage peace for the people of South Sudan."