JUBA, South Sudan (CNS) — Peace efforts in South Sudan should focus on ending people’s suffering rather than political power-sharing, the country’s bishops said.
“The conflict must not be personalized” between President Salva Kiir and main opposition leader Riek Machar, they said.
The bishops’ mid-October “urgent call for peace and justice” came at the end of a two-day meeting in the capital, Juba.
“While we are grateful for the peace efforts” of other countries, “we remain aware of their economic interests, which may undermine their impartiality,” the bishops said. “Let them focus on ending the suffering of the people of South Sudan.”
Machar told a visiting U.N. Security Council delegation Oct. 20 that he would not be part of a unity government set to be formed Nov. 12. The formation of the government already has been delayed over crucial issues such as the formation of a unified army and disagreements over state boundaries.
“We hope that a new transitional government will be formed soon, but we stress that the formation of a government is not an end in itself,” the bishops said, noting that a new government will only have legitimacy “if it resolves the conflict and provides peace, justice, security, basic services and good governance.”
“We question why the focus of peace efforts is on power-sharing between two or more individuals rather than addressing the root causes of the conflicts” affecting the ordinary people of South Sudan, they said.
“As we look around our dioceses and see the continued suffering … our hearts are touched,” the bishops said. The humanitarian tragedy is made worse by the breakdown of the economy and the continued violence in some areas, they said.
“As pastors, we are concerned about the level of fear within the leadership of all our parties,” which has “spread to many of our communities” and could lead to a “toxic shame” resulting in denial and cover-ups, the bishops said.
“Let there be accountability for the violence and corruption, which has destroyed our country,” they said.
“Above all, let our leaders remember the love and humility of our Holy Father, Pope Francis, when he kissed their feet,” they said, noting that “forgiveness is always possible, but it demands repentance.”
At the end of a highly unusual spiritual retreat for South Sudan’s political leaders at the Vatican in April, Pope Francis knelt at their feet and begged them to give peace a chance and to be worthy “fathers of the nation.”
South Sudan’s war, which broke out two years after the country achieved independence in 2011, has left nearly 400,000 dead and displaced nearly 4 million people.
In a time of crisis CatholicPhilly.com keeps the information flowing
During the current coronavirus crisis, you can help CatholicPhilly.com deliver the kind of news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live ― every day.
Budgets are tight at this time, and CatholicPhilly's is no different than those of most families. We make sure your donation in any amount will go a long way toward continuing our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103