Juba, South Sudan, Nov 27, 2017 / 07:00 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Catholic bishops of South Sudan urged Catholics to join Pope Francis in a prayer for peace in the newest African country, which has been entrenched in a three yearslong civil war.
On Nov. 23, Pope Francis presided over a prayer service at the Vatican for South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The event was organized by the humanitarian organization “Solidarity with South Sudan.”
“Let us pray with our Holy Father for the grace to see every human being as a child of God, regardless of tribe, regional attributes, race, language or culture,” Bishop Barani Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala of Tombura-Yambio, President of the Conference of Catholic Bishops in Sudan and South Sudan, said in a statement released Thursday.
“We have to pray together with Pope Francis indeed for the wisdom to receive the stories and experiences of those different from ourselves and to respond with respect.”
Bishop Kussala, has continually called for respectful dialogue, during the civil war, which has forced millions to flee, fight, or starve.
Just years after the country gained its freedom in 2011, South Sudan was launched into a civil war between forces loyal to President Salva Kirr, and those loyal to former vice-president Reik Machar. The conflict’s cause is complex; decades of ethnic disputes, political factionalism, economic hardship, and corruption have led to a brutal war, and Africa’s largest refugee crisis.
Around 4 million South Sudanese have fled the country looking for safety, food, and stability. In February, a UN-backed report declared the country to be in a state of manmade famine. Even after increased in aid lifted the country out of famine in July, the UN’s Integrated Food Security Phase Classification says that 1.7 million people still face emergency levels of hunger.
Bishop Kussala encouraged the country’s people to pray for increased compassion, so that healing might take place where ethnic rivalries have sown hatred.
“We pray with Pope Francis for solidarity and true compassion in our human family, that we may work together to protect those who are most vulnerable and most in need,” Bishop Barani said.
Additionally, Bishop Kussala urged Catholics to pray for the country’s clergy, especially the dioceses still in need of bishops.
“With Pope Francis let us pray for our faith community, our dioceses, also that God may give us new Bishops into the four vacant dioceses of Malakal, Torit, Rumbek, Wau.”
Bishop Kussala concluded the message with a prayer, asking God to protect and guide the South Sudanese to long-lasting peace.
“May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit inspire and guide all our families as we sail through the stormy times in our countries into true durable peace.”
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