July 18, 2011
A man waves South Sudan's national flag as he attends the Independence Day celebrations in Juba July 9. Hundreds of thousands of people celebrated independence after decades of civil war.

CNS PHOTO | THOMAS MUKOYA, REUTERS

A man waves South Sudan's national flag as he attends the Independence Day celebrations in Juba July 9. Hundreds of thousands of people celebrated independence after decades of civil war.

Pope Benedict named an official delegation to represent him at the July 9 independence celebrations in Southern Sudan and charged members with conveying his hopes for "peace and prosperity" to citizens of the world's newest nation.

The Vatican "invites the international community to support Sudan and the new independent state so that, in a frank, peaceful and constructive dialogue, just and fair solutions can be found for the questions that are still unsolved," Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said in a statement July 8.

Lombardi also said the Vatican wishes the people of both North and South "a path of peace, freedom and development."

The Vatican's foreign minister met July 7 with a delegation from the Sudanese parliament, led by Ahmed Ibrahim el-Tahir, president of the Sudan National Assembly, its lower house.

The Vatican spokesman also said that if Southern Sudan requests it, the Vatican would seriously consider establishing full diplomatic relations with the new country, which will be named the Republic of South Sudan.