Juba, South Sudan, Jan 6, 2020 / 14:25 pm America/Denver (CNA).
Bari ethnic leaders in South Sudan have distanced themselves from critics of the newly-appointed Archbishop of Juba. The archbishop has faced controversy since his December appointment for several reasons, including that he is not a member of the region’s predominant Bari tribe.
“Those indigenous clergy and faithful Bari who have rejected the appointment of the new Archbishop for Juba [do] not reflect the position of the entire Bari Community or their association i.e. the Bari Community Association,” Cornelio Bepo Lado Kenyi, chairman of the Juba-based association, explained in a Dec. 23 statement.
The statement adds that critics of the newly appointed Archbishop Stephen Ameyu “have not been mandated by either the community nor the association.”
The Bari are an ethnic group who are centered in Juba. The Bari Community Association is an umbrella cultural organization representing Bari leadership in South Sudan.
The Bari Community Association issued its statement after letters of protest were sent to the Vatican, protesting the appointment of Ameyu as archbishop. One letter, sent Dec. 12, was signed by three priests and five laymen, who identified themselves as “community elders,” and were widely understood to be presenting themselves as Bari tribal leaders. Their letter gave three reasons for opposing the appointment, charging that government officials and some Juba priests had conspired to promote Ameyu as archbishop for personal interests, and had influenced a Vatican diplomat to that end; that a local priest could have been appointed; and alleging that Ameyu has fathered at least six children.