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Pope asks Sudanese bishops to keep speaking on behalf of persecuted
Pope asks Sudanese bishops to keep speaking on behalf of persecuted

.- During an audience on the occasion of their Ad Limina visit to Rome, Pope John Paul II encouraged Sudanese Catholic bishops to keep speaking on behalf of the persecuted Christian minority in the mostly Muslim African country.

Addressing the bishops in English, the Pontiff highlighted “the figures of two intrepid witnesses to the faith, two holy individuals whose lives are intimately connected with your land: St. Josephine Bakhita and St. Daniel Comboni.”

 “From her earliest years,” said the Pope, “St. Josephine Bakhita knew the cruelty and brutality with which man can treat his fellow man.” “Her life inspires the firm resolve to work effectively to free people from oppression and violence, ensuring that their human dignity is respected in the full exercise of their rights.”

The Holy Father said this is “the same resolve that must guide the Church in the Sudan today as the nation makes the transition from hostility and conflict to peace and concord.”

Later, highlighting “the hardships and pain that afflict those fleeing war and violence — especially women and children,” the Holy Father noted the efforts of Church agencies to help refugees and displaced persons in these situations. He also pointed to the Church’s many contributions to Sudan’s social and cultural life and lauded the “reactivation of the Commission for Interreligious Dialogue.”

“You should do all that you can to encourage this, even as you insist that religious pluralism, as guaranteed by the Sudanese Constitution, should be respected,” he added

 “As you know so well,” John Paul II told the Sudanese bishops, “it belongs to the Church to speak out unambiguously on behalf of those who have no voice and to be a leaven of peace and solidarity, particularly where these ideals are most fragile and threatened.”

He then noted that St. Daniel Comboni “was keenly concerned that Africans should have a key role in evangelizing the continent.” “… In the course of his missionary activity, he did not let the great suffering and many hardships that he endured — privation, exhaustion, illness, mistrust — divert him from the task of preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ. Bishop Comboni was moreover a strong advocate of inculturating the faith.”

A new Catechism for the Sudanese

On the formation of the laity, especially catechists, the Pope suggested, “It would prove helpful if a simple catechism in the language of the people were prepared and made available. Similarly, suitable texts in local languages could be prepared and distributed as a means of presenting Jesus to those who are unfamiliar with the Christian message and as a tool for interreligious dialogue. This could be especially helpful in those areas exempt from Shari‘ah law, particularly in the Federal Capital of Khartoum.”

Urging the bishops “to cherish your priests with a special love and to regard them as precious co-workers and friends,” he stated that priests “are called to be detached from material things and to devote themselves to the service of others through the complete gift of self in celibacy. Scandalous behaviour must at all times be investigated, confronted and corrected.”

He also counseled the bishops to, as much as possible, have contact with the faithful and to be attentive to their human and spiritual needs. “Time and resources should never be spent on diocesan or parochial structures or on development projects at the expense of the people.” He said “equity and transparency must be the indispensable traits characterizing all financial matters, with every effort being made to see that contributions are truly used for the purposes intended.”


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April 21, 2014

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