By Arnold Neliba
JUBA, FEBRUARY 7, 2023 (CISA)-Pope Francis while acknowledging challenges in evangelization in South Sudan implored bishops, priests, and male and female religious to be like St. Daniele Comboni who is revered for his immense contribution to the foundation and growth of the Church in South Sudan.
The pope was referring to how some priests and sisters have been victims of violence and attacks, which in some cases have claimed lives due to their missionary work and closeness with the people.
“In a very real way, they offered their lives for the sake of the Gospel. Their closeness to their brothers and sisters is a marvellous testimony that they bequeath to us, a legacy that invites us to carry forward their mission. Let us think of Saint Daniele Comboni, who with his missionary brothers carried out a great work of evangelization in this land. He used to say that a missionary must be ready to do anything for the sake of Christ and the Gospel. We need courageous and generous souls ready to suffer and die for Africa,” Pope Francis told members of the clergy in the just concluded February 3-5 ecumenical visit to South Sudan.
His address anchored on two aspects of Moses’ character in the bible: his meekness and his intercession, he urged them to intercede for the people, to raise their voices against the injustice and the abuses of power that oppress and uses violence to suit their ends amid the cloud of conflicts.
He said “If we want to be pastors who intercede, we cannot remain neutral before the pain caused by acts of injustice and violence. To violate the fundamental rights of any woman or man is an offence against Christ himself.”
The pope together with the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Rt Rev Iain Greenshields, the Moderator of the Church of Scotland concluded their three-day Ecumenical Peace Pilgrimage to Africa’s youngest nation with passionate calls for an end to the war and suffering in the country.
During the visit, they held meetings with President Salva Kiir and his government, civil authorities, and members of the diplomatic corps and listened to testimonies by the internally displaced persons.
South Sudan has been wracked by civil war since becoming independent in 2011. Despite a peace deal signed in 2018, violence driven by ethnic tensions has continued, and more than 400,000 people are reported to have died as a result of the conflict.