Catholic bishops in Sudan: ‘Fabric of Sudanese society has been torn apart’

Bishops of Sudan The president of the Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC), Cardinal Stephen Ameyu Mulla, reads a message from SCBC members on June 29, 2024. | Credit: Catholic Radio Network (CRN)

Members of the Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC) have expressed concern about the ongoing conflict in the country, saying that the civil war has caused unimaginable destruction and immense suffering to the people.

In their statement following their June 27–29 meeting in the Archdiocese of Juba in South Sudan, members of SCBC say they “cannot distance” themselves from what has been happening in the country since April 2023.

“The fabric of Sudanese society has been torn apart, with people shocked, traumatized, and disbelieving about the level of violence and hatred,” the SCBC statement issued on June 29 said.

“This is not simply a war between two generals, as the military has inextricably embedded itself in the economic life of the country, and both SAF and RSF each have a network of wealthy elite Sudanese and international individuals and cartels who benefit from their control of various sectors of the economy,” the statement said.

The SCBC members said that apart from what they describe as “horrendous war crimes and human rights abuses committed by both sides,” victims of the civil war are suffering “a humanitarian disaster.”

“The Church in Sudan appeals to us to help stop the war, provide humanitarian assistance, do advocacy work for peace, prepare for after the war in terms of reconciliation, rehabilitation, reconstruction, and trauma healing, and above all, to pray for them,” they added.

The Church leaders highlighted feedback from Bishop Yunan Tombe Trille Kuku of the El Obeid Diocese about the situation on the ground.

“I believe that our leaders are not ready for peace. Fighting and conflict have the upper hand as we hear them say unless we defeat the other group, we won’t put down weapons,” the bishop said. 

“Time has come for them to think of the people and nation. The more the fighting, the more people get scattered and the more hatred grows among various Sudanese ethnic groups,” the bishop said.

Appealing for peace in Sudan, he added: “Kneel down to pray and hear the voice of God and the voice of the people, the children, the women that cry for peace, and also the blood that cries on the ground of very innocent people who died because of crossfire. Go back to dialogue as children of one mother and one father.”

In their statement, SCBC members said they endorse the words of the bishop of Ol Obeid and called for unity.

They thanked Pope Francis for his concern about Sudan, saying: “We echo his heartfelt plea in early June 2024: May the weapons be silenced and, with the commitment of the local authorities and the international community, help be brought to the population and the many displaced people. May the Sudanese refugees find welcome and protection in neighboring countries.”

Referencing the Holy Father’s message for the 2017 World Day of Peace titled “Nonviolence: A Style of Politics for Peace,” the SCBC members said: “Violence is not the cure for our broken world. Countering violence with violence leads at best to forced migrations and enormous suffering because vast amounts of resources are diverted to military ends and away from the everyday needs of young people, families experiencing hardship, the elderly, the infirm, and the great majority of people in our world. At worst, it can lead to the death, physical and spiritual, of many people, if not of all.”

“We once again commit ourselves to seeking peace and justice through active nonviolence, the nonviolence of the Gospel. Nonviolence is the only viable path to peace,” they added.

“Even those who bear arms and commit violence are children of God, the God who called on us to love our enemies. Thus, we reject the demonization of one side or the other in Sudan’s conflict, and we do not take sides.”

They called on those engaged in fighting to lay down their arms and enter into meaningful peace negotiations. 

The bishops spoke further against the atrocities meted against innocent civilians in Sudan, saying: “We condemn the killing, raping, and looting of civilians by any side, and we call for accountability for their crimes.”

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SCBC members also thank the government of South Sudan for its “open and generous response to returnees and refugees from Sudan.”

They called upon the South Sudanese government to “remain neutral in Sudan’s conflict, to take measures to prevent any South Sudanese from participating in the armed conflict, and to continue facilitating peace negotiations wherever possible.”

This article was first published by ACI Africa, CNA’s news partner in Africa, and has been adapted nu CNA.

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