By Odiwuor Opiyo
JUBA, APRIL 12, 2022 (CISA) – The Catholic Bishops and Ordinaries of South Sudan and Sudan have called on the faithful to seize the spiritual moment of Easter celebrations for renewal and to pray and meditate on the forthcoming visit of Pope Francis in July.
In a joint pastoral letter for Easter for all dioceses in both countries, the prelates underscored the solemness of this year’s Easter as a celebration of faith and renewal in preparation to receive the Holy Father.
“Easter celebration is our resurrection from senselessness, from hopelessness to a new hope in Christ, to a new beginning marked by the joy of the risen Christ who transmits newness of life,’ said the bishops.
The prelates pointed out that the celebrations of Easter are mixed with feelings of blessings and a difficult year, in that both countries are still raged by civil conflicts, drought and displacements of people.
“… many still die due to armed conflict, women, children and elderly killed, and even the sick killed in their sickbed. Many of our brothers and sisters are still in IDPs and refugee camps and others are still in exile. They live with uncertainty about whether they will ever reunite with their families. We know large areas of our country suffer from floods and as the rainy season begins, fear looms in their hearts as to whether the floods will at all subside,” stressed SCBC.
The Catholic bishops, however, are hopeful that the political leaders, “will not take us back to war so as to eliminate the humanitarian crisis and pave the way for justice, peace and reconciliation.”
In their pastoral letter, the bishops divulge the intentions of Pope Francis’ visit by saying that he comes to communicate the same message of St. Peter as written in Acts 10:34.
“The Pope is visiting South Sudan, to confirm us in faith, as St. Peter did to his colleagues the Apostles. His visit is to communicate peace which is the first gift of the risen Christ to his disciples “Peace Be with you” (Jn 20; 21). We remember his touching gesture, the kissing of the feet of our political leaders, a humble but compassionate appeal for peace in our country. We hope his visit will renew us, as we are still shaken by forces of violence, death and by the evil of ethnic divisions within our Church and society,” the bishops explained.
The Catholic Bishops of South Sudan and Sudan released the statement dated April 11, after an Extra-Ordinary meeting of the Sudan Catholic Bishops Conference in Juba that took place from March 21 to 23, to prepare for the papal visit to South Sudan from July 5 to 7, 2022.