“We cannot build church, nation based on tribalism”: Catholic Archbishop in South Sudan

Archbishop Stephen Ameyu Martin of South Sudan's Juba Archdiocese. Credit: Radio Bakhita/Facebook

There is need for the people of God in South Sudan to foster national values, going beyond their ethnic affiliations especially tribe, the Archbishop of Juba has said. 

Archbishop Stephen Ameyu Martin who was presiding over Holy Mass at Our Lady of Sorrow Parish of South Sudan’s Torit Diocese said tribalism is the country’s “biggest enemy”.

“We cannot build our nation or Church based on tribalism, if we build them on tribalism we will say there is no Baptism, Holy Communion, confirmation and we will fall out because it’s something that is dividing us,” the South Sudanese Archbishop of Juba who doubles as the Apostolic Administrator of Torit Diocese said during the Sunday, September 25 Eucharistic celebration. 

He added, “I am encouraging all the faithful and the Clergy to fight against tribalism in South Sudan because this is our biggest enemy that needs our collective efforts to end it by all means.”

“We have to promote the spirit of nationalism at the state and national level and at any religious denomination,” Archbishop Ameyu said in his homily. 


He further said that “Tribalism cannot help the church and the nation develop for it will only lead to some Christians doubting the sacrament.”

“We are still a new nation,” he said about the country that gained independence from Sudan in July 2011, and continued, “We have not filled our nationalism at the state, national and at the Church level because we are still segregating ourselves on tribal basis.” 

In his September 25 homily, the 58-year-old South Sudanese Archbishop who started his Episcopal Ministry in March 2019 as the Bishop of Torit Diocese said, “We need God's intervention to fight tribalism because it’s only tribalism that is dividing us in this country.”

“Salvation will only be possible for all of us whether we are rich or poor; all of us must cooperate to work together,” Archbishop Ameyu said, adding that “it is indeed through our cooperation together that can save us and we can save you through the administration of the diocese.”

He went on to underscore the need the need for collaboration between members of the Clergy and the Laity, saying, “If there is poor coordination between the Clergy and the faithful, it will lead to failures in most activities of the Parish or the Diocese and the Church will not succeed in delivering services.”

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It is through your encouragement to the clergies that they will serve the people of God not tribe, individuals or friends. Let us help our Priests and our faithful in order for us to move closer to God,” Archbishop Ameyu said September 25. 

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.