28 de outubro de 2011


Mori community © SAmado




You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free (John 8:32)

We, the bishops of the Sudan Catholic Bishops' Conference, covering the Republic of Sudan and the Republic of South Sudan, met in Plenary Assembly at the Catholic Health Training Institute in Wau, South Sudan, from 19th - 28th October 2011 to pray and reflect about the new situation in our two nations, and to discern “the Church God wants us to be”.
We remain one bishops' conference covering the two countries. As we wrote during our meeting in April 2011: “We are all children of God, regardless of geographical boundaries, ethnicity, religion, culture, or political affiliation, and we insist on respect for diversity”. The Church in the two nations will continue to be in solidarity due to our shared history and the very real practical and human links between us. We have set up two secretariats, one in Juba and one in Khartoum, to implement the pastoral policies of the bishops in each nation.
During nearly five decades of war, the infrastructure of the Church stayed with the people through its bishops, clergy, religious, catechists and other personnel, alongside our brothers and sisters from other churches. The Church is the people of God; wherever there were people, the Church was there. For much of that time it was the only institution which remained intact on the ground. As well as its pastoral and evangelical role proclaiming the Good News, the Church delivered basic social and humanitarian services and provided leadership and security in the absence of government or in the face of a hostile government. The Church mediated local and national conflicts, and played a decisive role in giving the voiceless a voice in the international arena. The Church will continue to play a public role in both nations. Our role is not political in any partisan sense. Rather we hold our two nations, both governments and citizens, accountable to Gospel values. We confront them with Truth.
To the citizens of the Republic of South Sudan, we repeat what the bishops of South Sudan wrote in September 2011: “we recognise that 'Rome was not built in a day' and that the development of a new nation is a process which will take time. While constantly holding the government to account and always expecting progress, we nevertheless caution citizens to be patient in their demands, to be fair to the government and to allow them time to move forward carefully and in good order.” We emphasise that not only the government, but also all political leaders and citizens, have a responsibility to build the new nation.
To the citizens of the Republic of Sudan, we assure you of our continued presence. The Church is with you and will continue with its programmes which bring hope. We will pray and work for the rule of law, and particularly for a just solution to the question of citizenship.
We remain united in our concern for human dignity, the sanctity of human life, the common good, solidarity and basic human rights. Truth is indivisible. We reject talk of “protection of minorities” and instead insist on the rights of all citizens. We call for respect of human diversity, created by God, whether ethnic, cultural, linguistic or religious. Human beings are created with God-given dignity and rights, which are spelled out in Catholic Social Teaching, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the African Union Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights.
Our people have displayed great strength, courage and fortitude in the face of war and hardship, but they have been traumatised and cycles of resentment and revenge have been created. Trauma healing is an immediate priority. The Church, by its nature and mission, is a sign of reconciliation, and South Sudanese have demonstrated a remarkable ability to reconcile, both through traditional mechanisms and in the Church-led “People to People Peace Process”. Reconciliation within South Sudan will be essential in building a new nation, addressing the grievances and pain of many individuals and ethnic groups who feel they have been mistreated even by the state or those who misuse the powers entrusted to them. However a number of necessary conditions must be in place for this to happen successfully. These include education, security, and a degree of stability and political maturity. Eventually, when the time is ripe, a truth and reconciliation process should be developed. It is to be hoped that, with time, reconciliation (as opposed to mere absence of conflict) will also be possible between the two Republics. The Church will continue to do whatever it can to bring people together in Truth, Justice, Peace, Mercy, Love and Forgiveness.
We are deeply troubled by the ongoing violence in our two nations. Civil war has broken out in the Nuba Mountains / South Kordofan State and in Blue Nile State, alongside the ongoing war in Darfur. We have consistently warned of the danger of a return to hostilities if the legitimate aspirations of the people of these areas were not met. Civilians are being terrorised by indiscriminate aerial bombardment. There is an urgent need to open humanitarian corridors to allow food and medicines to reach those in need. The dispute over the status of Abyei has been militarised. We urge the international community, and particularly our brothers and sisters in the African Union, to ensure that these conflicts are resolved peacefully through the full implementation of the remaining protocols of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement for these three areas, and to assist with outstanding issues between the two nations including citizenship and demarcation of boundaries.
In various parts of South Sudan, ethnic groups and individual leaders resort to violence to resolve their real or perceived disputes. Even as we meet, we hear of fresh conflict in Eastern Equatoria amongst some Madi and Acholi communities. We call for restraint from all concerned to allow their problems to be resolved peacefully. We are aware of tensions over land and boundaries in many parts of South Sudan, and we call on government, traditional leaders, youth and all stakeholders to acknowledge that there is a problem and to use peaceful and legal means to resolve these issues.
The people of Western Equatoria, Western Bahr el Ghazal and neighbouring countries continue to suffer due to the activities of the Lord's Resistance Army. We reject further militarisation of any of these conflicts, and call upon governments and the international community to work for negotiated settlements. We call for increased protection and humanitarian assistance for the affected populations.
We call for open, transparent and democratic governance in both nations. The two nations must learn to live in peace with each other, but also with their own citizens. We reject all policies which oppress, marginalise and dehumanise any citizens. Both countries are poor, and all their energy should be devoted to development and peace. Government, like Church, is called to exercise responsible stewardship. Leadership should be viewed as service to the community, not personal power or profit, and corruption is unacceptable. Delivery of basic services to the citizens must be prioritised, and the Church will continue to play a major role, particularly in health and education. We recognise new problems of urbanisation, economic hardship, land grabbing and more, and we call upon all stakeholders to address these issues honestly and transparently.
“The Church God wants us to be” is at peace with people of good will in all Christian denominations and all faiths. We thus reaffirm our commitment to ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue. As a founder member of the Sudan Council of Churches and Sudan Ecumenical Forum, we look forward to playing a leading role in the restructuring of ecumenical bodies to reflect the new situation.
At the root of everything are the values of Catholic Social Teaching: human dignity, the common good, a recognition of both rights and duties, option for the poor, care for creation, solidarity, subsidiarity and participation, good governance, and the promotion of peace. Without these Gospel values to inform our consciences, we will not succeed.
We want to give a special word of encouragement to our pastoral agents. We recognise the selfless witness of our priests, religious men and women, catechists, teachers, health workers and other Church personnel, both local and missionary, who are the pillars of the Church. We are aware of the toll it has taken upon them. There is still much work to do: The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few (Matthew 9:37). Go forward with our gratitude, our admiration and our blessing, with renewed commitment for evangelisation.
We call upon the faithful to pray continually, building on our 101 days of prayer for a peaceful referendum and our season of prayer for the Independence of South Sudan. Prayer is at the heart of “the Church that God wants us to be”.
May God bless you, through the intercession of St Josephine Bakhita and St Daniel Comboni.
Given in Wau, Republic of South Sudan, this 28th day of October 2011

22 de outubro de 2011


P. António La Braca – Juba © JVieira

A mensagem do Papa Bento XVI para o Dia Missionário Mundial que se celebra domingo, 23 de Outubro, pode ser resumida nesta simples frase: “Todos, tudo e sempre em missão!”
Que significa isto para nós HOJE?

TODOS: Ninguém é excluído ou pode ser excluído da responsabilidade missionária. Todo o baptizado é missionário! “A missão é co-responsabilidade de todos. Este dom-compromisso é confiado não apenas a alguns, mas sim a todos os baptizados”, escreve o Papa.
Pelo baptismo temos o DIREITO E O DEVER de sermos missionários! Não só missionários e missionárias por consagração religiosa; não só gente voluntária para partir para terras de missão; não só adultos e/ou jovens, também crianças, pais de família, leigos…TODOS somos missionários.

TUDO: O que somos e o que temos, são para o serviço à missão!
“O próprio Dia Missionário Mundial não constitui um momento isolado no curso do ano mas é uma ocasião preciosa para ver como respondemos à nossa vocação missionária comum”, o Papa esclarece.

SEMPRE: Não só em ocasiões particulares, por altura de Outubro ou do Dia Missionário Mundial; não só quando se vai por um mês ou anos para outras terras em missão; mas SEMPRE somos missionários!
A palavra ao Papa: “A atenção e cooperação na obra da Evangelização da Igreja no mundo não podem ser limitadas a alguns momentos e ocasiões particulares… A dimensão missionária da Igreja é essencial e portanto deve ser sempre considerada. É importante que tanto os indivíduos baptizados como as comunidades eclesiais estejam interessados, não de modo esporádico e irregular na missão mas de maneira constante, como forma de vida Cristã.”

EM  MISSÃO: A missão exprime-se de muitas maneiras e formas. Cada pessoa e cada comunidade pode e deve ser missionária à sua maneira! Uns a tempo inteiro, outros todo o tempo, da forma que Deus os chama!
Carlos Alberto Nunes -Missionário Comboniano

19 de outubro de 2011


A Symposium entitled “One Church from every tribe, tongue and people” was held from 13th - 16th October 2011 at Nyakuron Cultural Centre, Juba, South Sudan, ending with the celebration of Mass at St Theresa's Cathedral, Katuor, Juba. It was organised by the Catholic Church as a gift to the wider Church and the nation, in celebration of the independence of South Sudan and the Church's past, present and future contribution. More than 700 people participated in the Symposium, led by Cardinal Gabriel Zubeir Wako and Archbishop Paulino Lokudu Loru, including Catholic and Episcopal bishops, government officials, international experts and partners, representatives of the ecumenical community, the media, and priests, brothers, sisters and laity, both local and missionaries, from the Republic of South Sudan and the Republic of Sudan. Contributions from the participants were extremely valuable. Cardinal Zubeir urged that this Symposium should lead to action at national level and in the dioceses.

In reviewing the history of the nation, it became clear that there has been little serious academic study of South Sudan other than as a “historical backwater” of the old Sudan. History is written by the victors, and these tended to be the Anglo-Egyptians and northern Sudanese. Primary sources are now being unearthed, and it is time for South Sudanese to write their own history. Documents and archives should be returned to South Sudan, and we should interview our elders before their personal experience is lost.

Catholic Church history is dominated by the contribution of St Daniel Comboni and his missionaries since the 19th century. The spirit of Comboni is a gift which has shaped the Church: “Save Africa with Africans”. Special mention was made of other missionary societies, including the Mill Hill Missionaries, who served in Malakal and elsewhere since 1938. The personal testimony of several individual witnesses highlighted the role of the missionaries and the contribution which the Church made in a variety of fields including health and education. But we also heard about the suffering and trauma of the people of South Sudan, particularly women and children, and how the Church provided solace.

The local Church is the Body of Christ, the community in this place, made up not only of native South Sudanese but all those who have come to be part of the work of salvation and human liberation. The Church is universal. It includes the diaspora and those in the Republic of Sudan. It began when the first Sudanese Christian was baptised, it was nurtured by laity, catechists and teachers, and reached a new level when the first Sudanese priests were ordained. Missionaries were expelled, but the Church continued to thrive and officially became a fully autonomous local Church in 1974. Virtually all of the early southern leaders were educated by the churches, and included priests, some of whom lost their lives in the service of the people. The liberation struggle was not won only by those with guns, but by ordinary people, and by the churches which gave them  support.

Many southerners first came into contact with the Church in Khartoum. The Church gave them a sense of dignity and identity in a hostile environment, and encouraged reconciliation and forgiveness between tribes. Southerners returning to South Sudan have been educated and trained by the Church in the north, and will be an asset to the Church and nation.

The Symposium heard the history of the Sacred Heart Sisters and the Brothers of St Martin: their founding, their suffering during the wars, their vision, and the invaluable service they have provided to the people of Sudan in the fields of education, health and pastoral work. The formation of these and other local religious congregations was a major step forward in the growth of the Church. One particular expression of the local Church in South Sudan is Holy Trinity Peace Village, Kuron, Eastern Equatoria. Founded by Bishop Paride Taban as a response to his own life experience, it seeks to bring reconciliation and peace in an area where numerous tribes interact, and can serve as a model and inspiration for other parts of the country. A new model of mission is found in Solidarity with Southern Sudan, a collaboration of over 170 Catholic religious congregations who have come together to assist the Church of South Sudan with pastoral, health, education and agricultural work. Their counter-cultural “Passion for Christ, Passion for Humanity” is anchored in the prophetic dimension of Christian vocation.

A presentation of the history of the Episcopal Church of Sudan demonstrated many similarities between the two churches, and also included some reflections on ecumenical cooperation in Sudan.

A reflection on the new Sudanese countries and churches began with an appreciation of the unique credibility and moral authority which the church has due to its presence and role during the war. It will continue to have a public role. Issues still to be settled between the two new countries include oil, borders, citizenship, debt, etc, but these should not lead to a renewed war. Abyei remains as disputed territory due to disagreement about who should vote in the referendum. The Republic of Sudan is moving towards an Islamic state with no tolerance for cultural and ethnic diversity, and this could lead to more conflict. Two new wars have broken out, in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, in addition to the existing war in Darfur. Churches have been warning for years that the aspirations of the people of these areas were not met by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, and that there was a real danger of further conflict. The ruling National Congress Party is under duress, and a new political reality is emerging as the armed and political opposition seek regime change. South Sudan had already made great strides during the 6 year Interim Period, and is on track to continue to develop. The transition from an armed liberation movement to a democratic government will take time, and expectations must be managed whilst still holding the government to account. This may prove a delicate balancing act for the Church, but at present good relations exist and should be institutionalised. Violence in South Sudan is tragic. Each different conflict has its own roots and dynamic, but most of the country is peaceful. The Church is involved in mediation processes, but development and trauma healing will also help to prevent conflicts.

There is only one pastoral priority for the Church in the two new countries: putting God at the centre of our being. We look forward to a vision of a flourishing Church, deeply rooted in its faith in Jesus Christ; a local Church that lives according to the principles of the Gospel; “the courage to forge new paths in responding to the changing circumstances and conditions facing the Church in her call to proclaim the Gospel today”. In the new evangelisation, the laity will be in the forefront. As we ask, “who are we and how do we read the signs of the times?”, new models of Church will emerge and new ways of addressing issues. In preparation for the Symposium, an informal survey of people's expectations of the Church was carried out. Their voice was heard, and reinforced the messages of the speakers and participants of the Symposium.

The government of the Republic of South Sudan expressed its appreciation for the work that the Church has done in bringing about the independence of the new nation, peace, delivery of basic services, civic education and much more. The government welcomes the Church's role and urges it to continue.

A recurring theme throughout the Symposium was love. In his opening address, Archbishop Paulino Lokudu Loru pondered: “Is love part of politics, money, projects in our nation? Without love, these are useless”. In the words of the Sacred Heart Sisters, “it is only the Love of Christ translated into service for the poor which will bring a real change to the country”. Archbishop Paulino closed the Symposium with a reminder of what the bishops said before the referendum: “Sudan will never be the same again!”

12 de outubro de 2011


Bispos apresentam o evento à imprensa © JVieira

A Igreja católica no Sudão e no Sudão do Sul inicia amanhã um simpósio de três dias para celebrar o seu papel na independência do Sul.
O Simpósio Uma Igreja de cada Tribo, Língua e Povo do Passado para o Futuro decorre no Centro Cultural de Nyakuron, em Juba, e insere-se nas celebrações da independência.
O Bispo Erkolano Lodu Tombe de Yei e presidente da comissão que preparou o evento, disse aos jornalistas que o Simpósio celebra o papel da igreja nos dois Sudãos e os desafios que enfrenta. Também deve preparar um mapa para melhorar a vida nos dois países.
Contribuintes nacionais e estrangeiros, gente da Igreja e do Governo vão apresentar alguns tópicos que serão discutidos pelos participantes.
Pessoas-chave na história da Igreja no Sudão e no Sudão do Sul apresentarão os respectivos testemunhos, incluindo o irmão comboniano Valentino Fabris que está no dois países há mais de 60 anos.
Dom Santo Loku Pio, bispo auxiliar de Juba e vice-presidente comissão, recordou que o Simpósio é um momento histórico porque representantes das igrejas nos dois países não se juntavam desde 1984, altura em que se celebrou o Congresso Eucarístico Nacional.
As nove dioceses estão oficialmente representadas por delegações de dez membros cada.
O Simpósio conclui no domingo com uma missa de acção de graças presidida pelo Cardeal Gabriel Zubeir, arcebispo de Cartum.