‘Fear is driven out by perfect love,’ Vatican secretary of state tells South Sudanese

Cardinal Pietro Parolin Archbishop Hubertus van Megen South Sudan Cardinal Pietro Parolin (middle) and apostolic nuncio in Kenya and South Sudan, Archbishop Hubertus van Megen (left), are received in the Diocese of Rumbek by Bishop Christian Carlassare (right) on Aug. 17, 2023. | Credit: Father Erick Wanyonyi SJ/Rumbek

Fear is an enemy of peace, and it makes people weak and fragile, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said in his message to the people of God in South Sudan on the last day of his four-day visit to the east-central African country.

In his homily at Holy Family Cathedral of Rumbek on Aug. 17, Parolin said that fear, which he said could also be a consequence of sin, can only be driven out by “perfect love.”

“When people live in sin, they live in fear. Sin makes people weak and fragile, unable to sympathize with others in their suffering, unable to strive for justice, peace, and communion, unable to build a more fraternal community,” he said.

Fear, the cardinal continued, “may also arise from within ourselves, from our self-doubts and questioning, our failures and anxieties, and above all from the reality of sin.”

He added: “We proclaim and celebrate the fact that perfect love has been revealed in Jesus Christ, because in him God has reconciled the world to himself and has given us the gift of peace through the power of the Holy Spirit by fearlessly offering himself on the cross.”

“Jesus Christ dispelled every lingering doubt and distress,” he said. 

The cardinal noted that when people live in a continual state of insecurity and fear, violence can erupt so easily and for no apparent reason.

Parolin said that despite the disciples’ encounter with the risen Lord, they still feared for their lives: “Like the disciples, we also experience inconsistencies within our communities.”

“My brothers and sisters, in your search for justice and peace, listen to what the Lord God has to say — follow in Christ’s footsteps without fear,” he said.

On Aug. 15 while in the Diocese of Malakal at the invitation of Bishop Stephen Nyodho Ador Majwok, Parolin comforted returnees and refugees who were displaced by the Sudan war that broke out on April 15 and expressed the closeness of the Holy Father with them. 

He assured those who had been displaced of the help of the international community, saying: “We can raise the attention and the interest of the international community towards your situation just to provide the means to solve your problems to go back to your places of origin in a very safe and dignified way … I promise you, we will try to do so.” 

On his first day in the country on Aug. 14, Parolin urged South Sudanese to embrace the spirit of peace and reconciliation in order to build a harmonious society.

This story was originally published by ACI Africa, CNA’s news partner in Africa, and has been adapted by CNA.

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