Pope Francis: Pope Kisses Feet South Sudan Leaders, Begs For Peace (Photos/Video)

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Pope Francis on Thursday got on his hands and knees before the leaders of South Sudan’s government and its opposition, kissing their shoes and imploring the two men to maintain the tenuous peace that exists between them.

He appealed to President Salva Kiir, his former deputy turned rebel leader Riek Machar, and three other vice presidents to respect an armistice they signed and commit to forming a unity government next month.

“I’m asking you with my heart,” the pope said to the president, Salva Kiir, and the opposition leader, Riek Machar, clutching his hands in front of his chest. “Stay in peace.”

The gesture took place during the spiritual retreat by the two men at the Vatican and came only hours after the military in neighboring Sudan ousted its longtime leader, President Omar al-Bashir, after 30 years of authoritarian rule.

See photos/Video below.

Pope Francis

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