Wednesday, April 19, 2023
Catholic Bishops in Sudan and South Sudan have, in a collective statement, called on the rival forces in Sudan to end the ongoing violence and “revert to dialogue” to safeguard the lives of the people. [In the picture: Members of the Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC). Credit; Courtesy Photo. ACI Africa]
On April 15, fighting erupted between army units loyal to General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, head of Sudan's transitional governing Sovereign Council, and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) led by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo. At least 97 civilians had been killed and 365 injured since the fighting in Sudan started, Reuters has reported.
In their April 17 statement shared with ACI Africa, the members of the Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC) urge the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary RSF in the North-East African country to cease hostilities and embrace dialogue. “We the Catholic Bishops in South Sudan are saddened by the recent fighting in Sudan especially in Khartoum and the major cities in the country,” Catholic Bishops in Sudan and South Sudan say. They add, “We call for an end to the fighting and revert to dialogue in order to preserve the unity of the country and not to further the suffering of the people.”
They express their concern about people who lost their lives, and many other who have been injured as well as the destruction of property in the ongoing violence. “The majority of people in Sudan are suffering and they are yearning for peace,” SCBC members say. Following Omar al-Bashir’s ousting in April 2019, the political transition was supposed to organize elections by the end of 2023, with Mr. Burhan promising a transition to civilian rule. However, according to reports, it seems that neither Mr. Burhan nor Mr. Dagalo has any intention of relinquishing power. In their April 17 statement, SCBC members lament, “We are aware that families suffer from the lack of basic needs when there is armed conflict.”
“We are aware that many people are trapped by fighting away from their homes, many in their homes but with no way to access basic needs for their survival and their families,” Catholic Bishops in the two neighboring countries say in a statement signed by SCBC Deputy President, Archbishop Stephen Ameyu Martin of South Sudan’s Juba Archdiocese.
The Catholic Church leaders “call on our Christian communities in our Dioceses in South Sudan to dedicate their times for prayers and fasting for our brothers and sisters in Sudan at this difficult moment. Keep the Spirit of Easter alive through prayers for peace to reign in Sudan,” they say, and implore, “we pray for the protection of all the people caught up in the conflict.”
The Catholic Church leaders at the helm of the seven Dioceses in South Sudan and the two Dioceses in Sudan say they are praying for God’s protection to all “our Christians and all the people of the Sudan”. “We stand in solidarity with His Eminence Cardinal Gabriel Zubeir Wako, Michael Didi, Archbishop of Khartoum, Tombe Trille of El Obeid Diocese, Daniel Adwok, Auxiliary Bishop of Khartoum and the Apostolic Nuncio to Khartoum,” they add in reference to the Catholic Church leaders in Sudan. “My brothers, never grow tired of doing what is right (2 Thess 3:13), and this applies to our call for prayers and for the calm in Sudan,” SCBC members say in their April 17 statement.
On Sunday, April 16, Pope Francis asked the people of God to pray for Sudan, that the country’s rival military factions might lay down their weapons and pursue peace. “I am following with concern the events unfolding in Sudan,” the Holy Father said from a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square. He added, “I am close to the Sudanese people, already so tired, and I invite you to pray so that they might lay down their arms and pick up the path of peace and harmony.”
[Patrick Juma Wani – ACI Africa]