Do Not “take us back to war”: Catholic Bishops in Sudan, South Sudan to Political Leaders

Members of the Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC). Credit: SCBC

Catholic Bishops in Sudan and South Sudan have, in their collective Easter Message, expressed the hope that political leaders in the two neighboring countries will foster “justice, peace and reconciliation”, and not “take us back to war”.

In their Monday, April 11 Easter Message, members of the Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC) regret the continued suffering of the people of God and describe 2022 as “a difficult year for our two countries”.

“We remain hopeful that our political leaders in both countries (don’t) take us back to war so as to eliminate the humanitarian crisis and pave the way for justice, peace and reconciliation,” SCBC members who comprise those at the helm of Catholic Dioceses in Sudan and South Sudan say.

They express their concern about the killing of innocent civilians including women, children, and the elderly.

The Catholic Bishops say, “It is a difficult year for our two countries because many still die due to armed conflict, women, children and elderly killed, and even the sick killed in their sick bed. Many of our brothers and sisters are still in IDPs and refugee camps and others still in exile.” 


The Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) live with “uncertainty whether they will ever reunite with their families”, they add.

“We know large areas of our country suffer from floods and as the rainy season begins, fear looms in their hearts as to whether the floods will at all subside,” SCBC members say in their April 11 Easter Message shared with ACI Africa.

They urge Christians to seize the spiritual moment of the Easter celebrations to pray and meditate, adding that “Christ is the answer to whatever inhuman situation the (countries) face and all the tragedies of our life, the worst among them being death.” 

“Easter is the celebration to defeat death and begin a new life which is a foundation of hope,” Catholic Church leaders at the helm of the seven Dioceses in South Sudan and two Dioceses in Sudan say.

They add, “We the Church in Sudan and South Sudan, look to the risen Christ to let us rise with him to remove the darkness that overshadows those situations and to shine on us with his light as we pray.” 

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The Catholic Bishops also make reference to the Holy Father’s planned Apostolic visit to South Sudan in July saying the trip “aims to communicate peace, which is the first gift of the risen Christ to his disciples.”

“We remember his touching gesture, the kissing of the feet of our political leaders, a humble but compassionate appeal for peace in our country,” SCBC members say, recalling Pope Francis’ dramatic gesture of kissing the feet of President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar at the Vatican in 2019.

In April 2019, a two-day spiritual retreat involving political and ecclesiastical authorities of South Sudan was held as a fruit of a proposal by Archbishop Justin Welby to the Holy Father. 

Reflections during the retreat focused on the national anthem of South Sudan under the guidance of Archbishop John Baptist Odama of Uganda’s Gulu Archdiocese, and Jesuit Fr. Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator who was at the helm of the Conference of Major Superiors of Africa and Madagascar.

At the end of the spiritual retreat, the Holy Father knelt at the feet of the political leaders of South Sudan, kissed their feet, and begged them to give peace a chance.


On 10 November 2019, Pope Francis led the Catholics in praying for peace and reconciliation in South Sudan and expressed the hope to visit the country. 

“I address a special thought to the dear people of South Sudan, whom I will have to visit this year.” Pope Francis said during the Angelus at the Vatican.

On 13 November 2019, Pope Francis and Archbishop Welby met at the Vatican during which they expressed their desire to make a joint pastoral visit to South Sudan, particularly if “a transitional government of national unity” will have been created.

After the Vatican encounter of the two global leaders at the Casa Santa Marta guest house, the Holy See Press Office reported, “During the friendly discussions, the conditions of Christians in the world was mentioned, as well as certain situations of international crisis, particularly the sorrowful situation in South Sudan.”

The Holy See Press Office statement continued, “At the end of the meeting, the Holy Father and the Archbishop of Canterbury agreed that if the political situation in the Country permits the creation of a transitional government of national unity in the coming 100 days, according to the timing set by the recent agreement signed in Entebbe, in Uganda, it is their intention to visit South Sudan together.”

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On 15 November 2019, the Holy Father reconfirmed his desire to realize the ecumenical trip alongside the spiritual leader of the worldwide Anglican communion, Archbishop Welby.

The trip to South Sudan had been conceived as an ecumenical one a couple of years earlier. The pastoral visit dates back to 2017 when the Holy Father expressed his desire to undertake an ecumenical visit to the East-Central African nation alongside the head of the Anglican church.

“My collaborators are studying the possibility of a trip to South Sudan. But why? Because the Anglican, Presbyterian and Catholic Bishops came to tell me: 'Please come to South Sudan maybe just for one day. But don't come alone, come with Justin Welby'", Pope Francis was quoted as saying during a 2017 meeting with the Anglican community at All Saints Church in Rome.

That year, and the subsequent years, the initiative was halted reportedly because of heightened violent clashes in different parts of South Sudan amid a serious humanitarian crisis.

In their April 11 Easter Message, SCBC members say they hope the ecumenical trip of the Holy Father “will renew us, as we are still shaken by forces of violence, death and by the evil of ethnic divisions within our church and society.”

“We as a Church want to fall on our knees before the risen Christ and confess our weakness, inhumanity and living as if we were not baptized in his name,” they say.

They further encourage the people of God in Sudan and South Sudan “not to abandon Christ in moments of trials and temptations, but to remain firm and strong in the faith of the risen Lord.”

“The victory of Christ over death is our faith, our hope and our destiny”, Catholic Church leaders in Sudan and South Sudan say in their Easter Message dated April 11. 

Patrick Juma Wani is a South Sudanese journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. Patrick holds a Diploma in Journalism and Mass Communication from Makerere Institute for Social Development (MISD) in Uganda. He has over 7 years of extensive experience in leading the development and implementation of media, advocacy, communication and multimedia strategy and operations, with an excellent track record of editorial leadership, budget management, and stakeholder outreach. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.