Bishops urge Pope to visit to war-torn South Sudan to foster peace
Church leaders from South Sudan are urging Pope Francis to visit their troubled country in support of their efforts to bring peace between warring factions.
At a meeting with the Pope in Rome, Catholic, Anglican and Presbyterian leaders gave him an update on the deteriorating situation across South Sudan. The Catholic Archbishop of Juba, Paulino Lukudu Loro, told him: “There is war, there are killings, there’s death, there are refugees, and there are people in camps across the country.”
Pope Francis was “ready to visit”, said Archbishop Loro. If His Holiness and other Christian leaders came to the world’s youngest nation, it would raise awareness of the critical humanitarian and security situation. “The Holy Father can help us talk to the international community, to the regional community, and to our government.”
Francis Flood, CAFOD and Trocaire’s Country Representative in South Sudan, said Pope Francis would receive a “warm welcome”, adding: “We are working tirelessly with our local Church partners to get emergency aid to communities affected by the conflict, under very challenging conditions.
Such a visit will hopefully boost efforts to get the country’s leaders to work towards achieving long lasting peace and prosperity, so that people can return to their homes, schools, farms and businesses.”
In Yirol region, CAFOD and Trocaire are helping more than 4,800 people with food – maize flour, beans, cooking oil and salt – as well as supplying clean water to communities by rehabilitating boreholes.
South Sudan, which gained independence in July 2011, is the world’s youngest country. Despite initial hopes of a peaceful future, conflict broke out in December 2013 between factions loyal to President Salva Kiir and the former Vice President, Dr. Riek Machar. A fragile peace agreement, signed in August 2015, has now broken down, leading to pockets of fighting across the country.
There is growing concern that the conflict is taking on ethnic overtones. On 26 October, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, warned that unless the alarming rise in hate speech and incitement to violence against ethnic groups was reined in, “mass atrocities” could erupt.
Archbishop Loro was joined in Rome by Daniel Deng Bul, Archbishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan, His Grace and Right Rev. Peter Gai Lual Marrow, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan, Fr. James Oyet Latansio, General Secretary of the South Sudan Council of Churches, and Ferdinand Von Hasbury, Adviser to the South Sudan Council of Churches.