Bishops in Sudan and South Sudan Hope Pope’s Trip Postponed, Not Cancelled
CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 08 June 2017
The Catholic Bishops in Sudan and South Sudan have expressed the hope that Pope Francis’ trip to South Sudan, which was called off for this this year, would still be realized at a later date.
The Bishops’ hope for rescheduling Pope’s pastoral visit to a later date is contained in a Press Statement by the President of the Sudan Catholic Bishops Conference (SCBC), Bishop Barani Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala.
“It is therefore, our great desire, hope and expectation as the Sudan Catholic Bishops Conference for the Sudan and South Sudan that, the visit of the Holy Father hasn’t been put off completely but the pastoral visit will be reconsidered and that South Sudan as a new nation will be graced by His Holiness – Pope Francis,” the Bishops have stated.
The Vatican had been planning for Pope Francis to visit South Sudan sometime in October this year, a pastoral trip that would have been undertaken together with Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury.
Announcing the cancellation of Pope’s trip for this year, Vatican spokesman Greg Burke had told journalists that the trip was still being considered without providing any timing when the trip might take place.
“We, the Sudan Catholic Bishops Conference (SCBC) for Sudan and South Sudan, the entire nation of South Sudan and the whole world were eagerly awaiting for the historic event of the visitation of his Holiness Pope Francis, the first time ever the Vicar of Christ, the Successor of St. Peter, to Grace the new nation of South Sudan,” the Bishops have stated.
Below is the full statement of the Bishops of Sudan and South Sudan on Pope Francis’ trip to South Sudan.
THE POSTPONEMENT OF THE VISITATION OF POPE FRANCIS TO SOUTH SUDAN,
PRESS STATEMENT BY THE SUDAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS CONFERENCE FOR SUDAN AND SOUTH SUDAN (SCBC)
Yambio, June, 06th 2017
Very Rev. Monsignors, Fathers, Religious Brothers & Sisters, the faithful and entire people of South Sudan,
“May they all be one just like I and the Father are one John: 17:21”
South Sudan is the newest country in the whole world, having attained its independence in the last five years. The country has been having on and off conflicts i.e. tribal/regional conflict, political instability and differences. All these challenges have contributed to the loss of many lives, displacement of people, under development, loss of property, insecurity, etc. From 2013 to date, South Sudan has been very unstable. Nearly everybody is traumatised.
Pope Francis for a very long time now has been so much concerned about South Sudan and its people. In several occasions in his traditional Prayers of Angelus and Weekly Audiences he has prayed and called on the world to come to the aid of South Sudan.
The Holy Father, has been a leading voice for peace and for dialogue between people of different faiths and nations. He’s also, in both his words and his deeds, I think has called all of us to address the challenges of poverty and inequality in our own country and around the world, and again, has brought to our church and world now, I think a moral clarity to how he addresses that issue and calls on all of us to care for the least among us.
We, the Sudan Catholic Bishops Conference (SCBC) for Sudan and South Sudan, the entire nation of South Sudan and the whole world were eagerly awaiting for the historic event of the visitation of his Holiness Pope Francis, the first time ever the Vicar of Christ, the Successor of St. Peter, to Grace the new nation of South Sudan.
Holy Father chose to visit South Sudan and his intention was out of personal inspired decision and interest, only God leads! Therefore, his cancellation to visit the country is first and foremost to be taken in respect and prayer! The reasons could be beyond superficial speculations and also could be due to the above mentioned challenges the country is undergoing.
Pope Francis is very particularly about the welfare of the suffering people in the world, and so is he for South Sudan. So he calls on all of us, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, to put the “least of these” at the centre of our concerns. He reminds us that in the eyes of God our measure as individuals, and our measure as a society, is not determined by power or wealth or station or celebrity, but by how well we attend to Scripture’s call to lift up the poor and the marginalized, to stand up for justice and against inequality, and to ensure that every human being is able to live in dignity –- because we are all made in the image of God.
It means showing compassion and love for the marginalized and the outcast, to those who have suffered, and those who have caused suffering and seek redemption. Pope Francis continues to remind us of the costs of war, particularly on the powerless and defenseless, and urge us toward the imperative of peace.
Surely over and above the hope and feelings of every citizen was joyful and remain that, South Sudan being a new country, the visit of the Holy Father could have familiarize the nation to the whole world, uplift the faith as their chief pastor, raise the expectation, unifying the people and consequently restoring peace to the war torn country of South Sudan.
The pastoral historic visit of the Holy Father could have uplifted the faith of the Christians and other believers in South Sudan as their chief Pastor comes in to share in their ordeal – praying for them and with them. Surely, the Holy Father’s visit would raise the expectations of South Sudan that if the Pope has come then there is going to be peace. His presence would be aimed at consoling the grieving brothers and sisters and heal their broken hearted/wounds. He could then strengthen the faiths of his brother bishops and raise hopes of the faithful who are desperately discerning for peace.
The Government beginning from the head of State (the President), the Bishops, the church leaders and the entire nation had expressed a heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to the Holy Father for his choice to visit South Sudan. But due to the uncontrolled ongoing insecurity and the many challenges mentioned above the visit has sadly been altered. All we need to do now is embark on a very serious spiritual self-discernment, Peace Building and Material consolidation in order to create conducive atmosphere for the possibility of the visitation of the Holy Father in due course.
It is therefore, our great desire, hope and expectation as the Sudan Catholic Bishops Conference for the Sudan and South Sudan that, the visit of the Holy Father hasn’t been put off completely but the pastoral visit will be reconsidered and that South Sudan as a new nation will be graced by His Holiness – Pope Francis.
We as the SCBC urge all our faithful and entire people within the country to strive and promote peace in his or her own capacity! Be that agent of change needed in South Sudan! Pray a lot more in sincere repentance of heart with the aim of consolidating peace in the country. It is only such activities which can bring the Holy Father to South Sudan in no distant period.
May the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ continue to inspire, motivate and enlighten us to promote his Kingdom in our new nation South Sudan. Let us continue to pray for the Holy Father in our daily prayers!
God bless you all and God bless South Sudan.
+ Barani Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala
Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Tombura-Yambio &
President of Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC)