Listening “way out of problems we encounter”: South Sudanese Bishop in Advent 2022 Message

Bishop Edward Hiiboro Kussala of the Catholic Diocese of Tombura-Yambia (CDTY) in South Sudan. Credit: CDTY

A Catholic Bishop in South Sudan has underscored the need to foster listening in the ongoing preparations for the Synod on Synodality, describing the practice as “the way out of problems we encounter.”

In his Advent 2022 Message issued on November 26, Bishop Edward Hiiboro Kussala says that the Synod on Synodality, which the Holy Father extended to 2024, should be an opportunity for conversion in his Episcopal See.

“Listening to one another is the way out of the problems we encounter in our lives,” the Bishop  of the Catholic Diocese of Tombura-Yambia (CDTY) says in his Advent 2022 Message addressed to the people of God under his pastoral care. 

Bishop Hiiboro adds, “It is important that in our Diocese we listen to each other, we listen to the voices of those not in the church pews, in our villages, communities or inner circles, and together we listen to the word of God which has been handed down to us.”

“It is important that we hear from people who have drifted from the Church and feel that the Church does not offer them the assistance that they need or is not fulfilling its mission as they understand it,” the South Sudanese Catholic Bishop further says.


He continues, “We will need to listen to those on the margins of the Church or of society and those who feel excluded from either.”

“It will be important to hear from people of other traditions about how they perceive the Church,” the Catholic Bishop who has been at the helm of Tombura-Yambio Diocese since his Episcopal Ordination in June 2008 says.

Making reference to the second phase of the Synod in CDTY, the 58-year-old South Sudanese Bishop says, “We are all invited by Pope Francis to take an active part because synod means on a journey together.”

“A Synod is not a debating event where people bring their arguments and opinions in order to win a discussion,” he says.

The Synod, Bishop Hiiboro notes, is “a prayerful journey of listening to what the Holy Spirit may be saying to the Church at this time so that we may live the Gospel values and continue the mission of Christ in our own times, with the present needs and opportunities.”

More in Africa

“In our Diocese this can be the second step in a longer and deeper listening journey to help us shape the Diocese, building on the work of hope and other positive initiatives in the future,” the Local Ordinary of CDTY says.

In his Advent 2022 Message, Bishop Hiiboro decries the cases of violence recorded in Western Equatoria State in South Sudan, which is part of his Episcopal See.

“In the last two years, due to violence in our diocese, which unfortunately is still with us in many forms, so much has changed, and we have changed,” he says, and adds, “Nobody and no institution can boast of not having been affected by the violence as well as the pandemic of covid-19.” 

The Catholic Church leader highlights the various forms of suffering as the result of violent confrontations in his Episcopal See, saying, “We all suffered and are suffering in some way whether financially, emotionally, psychologically, and physically.”

He says that South Sudanese are “living in uncertain times”, adding that “in these times the best in us has come out, trying to help those who needed our help and support.”


“We are not out of the woods yet, and we pray that we may see the end of the tunnel in the near future,” Bishop Hiiboro says. 

Reflecting on the Liturgical Season of Advent, he invites the people of God under his pastoral care to “inner conversion” as well as “honest conversations”.

“During this special season I am requesting us and our Diocese to be healed through inner conversion and honest conversations among ourselves,” the Catholic Bishop says, and adds, “Our whole life is our Advent, during which time we prepare ourselves for the moment when we enter fully into the life of God.”

The four-week preparation for Jesus Christ “invites us to reflect on how much God has loved us, in sending his own Son to be born to show us the face of God and to save us through his death and resurrection from sin and assuring us of eternal life,” Bishop Hiiboro says in his November 26 message.

“Let’s continue our journey but at the same time, renew and give more impetus to our preparation to welcome Christ into our lives as he is always knocking on our door,” he says.

(Story continues below)

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.