LIFT UP YOUR HEARTS: MESSAGE OF HOPE AND ENCOURAGEMENT
From the Catholic Bishops of Sudan and South Sudan
TO OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS
We, the Catholic Bishops and Ordinaries of Sudan and South Sudan, meeting for an
Extraordinary Plenary Session in Rome,.from l2'h - 22'd January 2016, together with the
Apostolic Nuncio to South Sudan, Archbishop Charles Daniel Balvo and the Apostolic Nuncio to
Sudan, Archbishop Hubertus Matheus Maria van Megen send you the people of Sudan and South
Sudan our message of peace, hope and encourogement as we begin this New year 2016.
We have come out of Sudan and South Sudan to have this moment of prayer,
reflection and spiritual renewal in the tombs of the Apostles; Sts, peter and paul.
After discussing the precarious pastoral and political situation of our two
countries with our superiors in Rome; we unconditionally recommit ourselves to
your service. ln our meeting with the Holy Father, Pope Francis, who keeps both
of countries at heart, we have been reconfirmed spirituaily, as your pastors, in
the ministry of God's Love and Mercy. We, therefore, extend to each one of you
the affection of the Holy Father and assure you of his spiritual closeness to the
people of both countries. We want you to know that the whole Catholic Church
feels and lives our current situation and is doing all she can to alleviate it.
we cannot overstress that the people of south sudan and sudan (especially
Nuba Mountains, Darfur and Blue Nile) have already suffered so much and for a
long time' ln addition to the miseries and death caused by insecurity and wars in
these areas, the economic situation in both of our countries is getting dire day by
day' People are hurting beyond bearable proportions. This unacceptable
situation cannot go on forever as if there is nobody in charge of these countries.
We welcome with great joy the August 2015 peace agreement on the Resolution
of Conflict in South Sudan - (ARCISS). lt is ushering in signs of hope that a new
beginning is still possible. As we begin this year 2016, which pope Francis has
providentially declared as a special "Jubilee Year of Mercy", we would like to
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urge you to lift up your hearts and keep your heads high because your
tiberation is near at hand (Lk.21:28). We encourage you to rise up from your,
doubts, fears and hopelessness and embrace this peace with hope' Let us
continue to pray and work hard that this year 2016 truly becomes a year of
forgiveness, reconciliation and peace in South Sudan and the whole of Sudan'
Although we are still optimistic that the August peace agreement will be timely
implemented, we are concern'that Some people, both in the government and the
opposition, are working hard to spoil the implementation of the agreement. The
way the parties to the agreement are dragging their feet in the process of
implementation gives an impression that they signed the peace out of pressure
and not because they have seen the suffering of their people. While we fully
understand that there are several contentious issues still to be addressed, we are
convinced that these seemingly "genuine grudges" can all be handled within the
framework of dialogue and peaceful deliberations. There is no one, in his right
mind, who can continue to sustain that war can be the answer to any grievances'
We have tried war many times before and it did not solve anything.
We cannot laud enough the efforts of all those who have helped the warring
parties in South Sudan to come to an agreement; the regional mediators; IGADplus,
TROIKA, AU, UN and other members of the international community. You
are doing a noble task. We want you to know that the Catholic Bishops and the
whole Church is behind you. We are praying for God's hand to continue guiding
We are now calling for a more rigorous implementation of the Peace Agreement'
We pray and hope that the parties to the agreement (the government of South
Sudan and the opposition) will swiftly cooperate with JMEC's Chairman, Festus
Mogae and his team, to save the lives of innocent citizens and for for the good of
the country. We earnestly urge the parties and all the political leaders to embrace
this God given opportunity, to listen to voice of reason and not squander this
chance. We still trust that, this time, you will put the interests of our beloved
nation ahead of personal interests. So, we are looking forward to the formation of
the government of National Unity in Juba in the next few days.
We do not, nevertheless, wish to be delusional in this question of peace. We still
remember how several ceasefire agreements have been violated no sooner than
they have been signed. That is why we are still concern that, should this peace
process not hold this time, the world's newest country, which is already described
as "failed state", could as well collapse in its entirety. WE ALSO WANT lT TO BE
CLEAR THAT IF THE PARITIES FAIL TO IMPLEMENT THIS AGREEMENT,
THE CATHOLIC BISHOPS OF SUDAN AND SOUTH SUDAN WILL GIVE
THEIR BLESSING TO ANY PLAN "8" OR "C'' THAT THE INTERNATIONAL
COMMUNITY MAY SEE APPROPRIATE TO TAKE IN ORDER TO SALVAGE
THE SITUATION OF SOUTH SUDAN.
We are also calling for moré concerted efforts for dialogue and peace in the
Sudan. We are encouraged by the repeated attempts and efforts being exerted
by the warring parties in Sudan to bring lasting Peace to the regions of Darfur,
Blue Nile and South Kordofan/Nuba Mountains. But our joy has been tempered
by the resumption of tragic bombardments of innocent people in these areas this
month. Sudanese should now be the first to realize that war and killing do not
Despite the several rounds of failed talks, we still urge the Government of Sudan
not to tire in its efforts to sit and negotiate a just and peaceful settlement to the
conflict. We also appeal to both belligerent parties to sit at the negotiating table in
order to reach a just and peaceful solution to the situation. We support all the
members of regional and the international community who are seeking a just and
peaceful solution for Sudan. lt is our intense desire to see the two Sudans living
side by side in peace and security. We want to see our people happy as they
develop themselves and their countries.
We want all the people of Sudan, South Sudan, IGAD and the lnternational
Community to know that our pastoral plan, in this year of mercy (working together
with the other Christian Churches (SSCC & SCC), is to spearhead the work of
forgiveness and reconciliation. This is a crucial part of nation-building. Our
dioceses have already begun the programs of healing and reconciliation in the
families, parishes and communities. We are your partners in carrying out this
noble mission of national healing and reconciliation in all levels of our society.
We would like, at this juncture, to express our gratitude to our priests, religious
brothers and sisters, catechists and lay faithful who are engaged in the work of
building peace at the grassroots. You are making often unnoticeable sacrifices by
living and working in the most difficult of circumstances, yet it is your work guided
by Lord Jesus himself that will bring true healing, peace and reconciliation in our
communities. May God the Father of Mercy bless the work of your hands.
ln conclusion, we the Catholic Bishops of South Sudan and Sudan pray, through the
intercession of Saints Josephine Bakhita and Daniel Comboni, that the God of Mercy
and Compassion, to whom we now put all our hope,:may forgive, heal and bless you all.
Given in Rome, 25'h January 2016, on the Solemnity of the Conversion of St. Paul and the
Octave day of the week of prayer for Peace and Christian Unity'
H. Emi. Gabriel Cardinal Zubeir Wako
President of SCBC
H.G. Paolino Lukudu Loro
Metropolitan Archbishop of Juba
H.G. Michael Didi Adgum
Coadjutor Archbishop of Khartoum & Apostolic Administrator of El Obeid
H.L.Erkulano Lodu Tombe
Bishop of Yei and Vice President of SCBC
H.L. Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala
Bishop of Tombura Yambio
Msgr. Roko Taban Mousa
Apostolic Administrator or Malakal
Msgr. Thomas Oliha Attiyah
Apostolic Administrator of Toritt Diocese
H.L. Daniel Adwok M. Kur
Auxiliary Bishop of Khartoum
H.L. Santo Loku Pio
Auxiliary Bishop of Juba
Fr. John Mathiang Machol
Coordinator of Rumbek