After a three-day meeting, the Bishops of South Sudan have issued a heartfelt Pastoral Letter expressing sadness and solidarity with worn-torn neighbouring Sudan. The South Sudanese Bishops strongly condemn the power struggle between Sudan’s two warring generals for causing so much suffering and destruction of property in Sudan. The Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC) comprises the two countries of South Sudan and Sudan. The Pastoral Letter is, however, signed only by the Bishops of South Sudan.
Respect the will of the people
“Human rights abuses are taking place on a daily bases, killings, looting and raping. Hospitals are being destroyed, and essential services such as access to food, water and electricity are being denied to the civilian population. In many Sudanese cities, heavy weapons are being used indiscriminately, and civilians are being killed. These are unacceptable, and we condemn the acts in the strongest possible term,” reads the Pastoral Letter. The Bishops want the warring generals to lay down arms and respect the people’s will.
“The ordinary civilians of Sudan have made their wishes known through the non-violent protests which overthrew President Bashir in 2019 and which continued after the new military takeover in 2021. They want a democratic civilian government, and they want the two separate military forces to merge and come under civilian control. We, the Bishops of South Sudan, call upon the warring parties to respect the will of the Sudanese people,” said the prelates.
Conflict destabilising the region
The South Sudanese Bishops are equally unhappy about the geopolitical dimensions of the war. Due to Sudan’s strategic location, the world’s superpowers and some regional governments are fomenting the conflict as they jostle for influence.
“We are also deeply concerned about the regional and international components of the conflict. The conflict is destabilising for the whole region, already fragile and weakened by internal conflicts. We call upon the international community to prevail over the Sudan’s warring parties to choose dialogue as means to resolve their differences,” affirm the Bishops.
Solidarity with the Church of Sudan
In their Pastoral Letter, the Bishops also express solidarity with the Church in Sudan, assuring the people and the Church of Sudan that “our thoughts and prayers are with you … The Catholic Church in South Sudan will continue alongside people of goodwill who are already involved to provide moral support and solidarity to its brothers and sisters in Sudan, welcoming those Church personnel who have fled to South Sudan,” they said.There is unusual praise for the South Sudan government. “We commend the government of South Sudan for welcoming refugees,” state the Bishops.
The Pastoral Letter is not only about Sudan but also addresses wide-ranging concerns in South Sudan, from the peace agreement not entirely delivering on security to challenges with democracy, the economy and other pertinent pastoral matters in South Sudan.
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10 July 2023
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