[Nairobi, Kenya, TCT] Catholic Church leaders from South Africa have urged their counterparts in South Sudan not to lose hope despite the challenges they face as they carry out their pastoral duties.
In a statement of solidarity from the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference, they said that they were concerned and saddened by recent happenings in South Sudan, where discord between political players led to conflicts that have claimed many people’s lives.
“What saddens us most is that the present situation has caused unnecessary death of innocent people, displacement, [of many civilians] , and the general disruption of normal life,” said statement issued at the conference, which was signed by the President Archbishop Stephen Brislin.
They added that it was disheartening to think that some people were born during the series of wars, lived through war and even married while war raged in their country.
“We, the Bishops Conference and Catholics of Southern Africa are convinced, despite the distressing South Sudanese situation, that hope, which is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, is something which we can’t afford to lose,” they said.
They noted that many priests and bishops worked in a potentially dangerous environment while trying to meet the needs of those who have been displaced and must seek refuge in their churches.
One such example of this occurred in July, when Pope Francis sent Cardinal Peter Turkson as a special envoy to South Sudan to appeal for an end to the violence in the country, and to help establish dialogue and trust between the warring parties.
Another example was when Cardinal Turkson, who is president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, visited South Sudan to deliver a letter from the Pope to President Salva Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar before fleeing the country.
South Sudan has been trying to emerge from a civil war caused by political rivalry between the Vice President and the President. Violent clashes across the city in July left tens of thousands of people dead or injured, with others displaced and in humanitarian crisis.
The South African leaders noted that every time violence broke out a lot of women, and children have sought refuge in churches and in schools. That is where they live – and the priests and brothers and nuns try to take care of them as best as they can. They said that the people of South Sudan deserve a more peaceful and prosperous country, adding that there are many good and peace loving church leaders who are working towards peace.
“We would like to express our solidarity with you at this moment of need for the people of South Sudan. Please take comfort in the fact that you are not alone in this sad moment in the history of your country,” said the statement.BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS