AFRICA/SOUTH SUDAN - The Bishops: "A spiritual retreat for our leaders, to help them make peace"

Tuesday, 6 March 2018 wars   bishops   peace  

Juba (Agenzia Fides) - "We are dissatisfied that our leaders in both government and oppositions so far have been unable to put their own interest aside and make peace for the good of the people of South Sudan. We fear that our leaders do not know how to make peace. They are confused. They are military people who see the World through the lens of violence. They need help, not so much with the technical and political details but with the spiritual and moral courage to make peace", say the Bishops of South Sudan in a message published at the end of their Plenary Assembly held in the capital Juba.
The message, sent to Agenzia Fides, was read by His Exc. Mgr. Paulino Lukudo Loro, Archbishop of Juba, in St. Theresa Cathedral.
"Our leaders are traumatized and thus they need to be healed from it". But the population of South Sudan after more than four years of senseless war with the death of thousands of people, caused by the clash between the factions of President Salva Kiir and that headed by former Vice President Riek Machar is even more traumatized.
"Tens of thousands of deaths, millions of people displaced; Looting, rape, hunger, economic collapse, break down of the rule of law, destruction of the nations’ infrastructure, children denied education and families denied health care. This elucidates a failure as a country", emphasizes the text.
The Bishops offer political leaders a spiritual retreat to help them heal from their wounds. As Mgr. Lukudo Loro says "We, the Catholic Bishops pledged our full support for this process which would include a spiritual retreat to be led by religious leaders from South Sudan and elsewhere. The theme of the retreat was not be political; it would be a healing retreat to bring about personal transformation to prepare the participants to face the path of making peace".
The Bishops hope that the third round of the revitalization forum of the 2015 peace deal would be a forum for leaders to resolve their personal and political interests and make peace a reality in South Sudan. "That will only happen, if the leaders are ready to change their hearts and be transformed", concluded Mgr. Lukudu Loro.
The 2015 peace agreement collapsed in the summer of 2016 when the different factions resumed fighting in the capital Juba, forcing Machar to flee into exile.
The revitalization forum of the peace agreement should be held in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, but the authorities of Juba have accused the so-called Troika, USA, Great Britain and Norway, of going beyond its mandate to facilitate mediation, heavily conditioning the peace process. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 6/3/2018)