Vatican Cardinal Calls on South Sudanese to “abandon old ways”, Seek Reconciliation

Pietro Cardinal Parolin with Bishop Christian Carlassare during Holy Mass at Holy Family Cathedral of Rumbek Diocese on 17 August 2023. Credit: Fr. Erick Wanyonyi SJ/Rumbek

The Vatican Secretary of State concluded his four-day visit to South Sudan on August 17 by calling upon the people of God in the country to abandon they old ways of war and division, and to work towards conversion in their pursuit of peace and reconciliation.

In his homily on Thursday, August 17 at Holy Family Cathedral of Rumbek Diocese on the final day of his visit, Pietro Cardinal Parolin underscored the importance of dialogue in seeking true peace and justice in the embattled East-Central African nation.

“True justice and peace depend on conversion, which requires a daily effort on the part of every person to live the Gospel faithfully in the face of temptations and of obstacles,” Cardinal Parolin said.

“By uniting as a community, as the evangelizing Church, we can commit ourselves to work for truth and justice, giving new hope to all of society,” the Vatican-based Cardinal said, and added, “In order to receive the forgiveness of God and undertake the path of reconciliation, we need to admit our sins, abandon our old ways, our passions and selfish worries, and enter with the risen Lord into the newness of life that he brought us.”

The 68-year-old Cardinal said, “We have to abandon our idols that today take the shape of personal honor, prestige in society, and the self-determination that deludes us into thinking that we alone are able to control our own lives and those of others.”


According to the Cardinal, it is the absence of justice and peace in the world that results to fears and “feelings of powerlessness”.

Cardinal Parolin further said, “We belong to one another by our Christian faith, no matter where we come from or tribe to which we belong.”

 “We have to give up personal ambitions and rivalries and understand that any harm done to a brother or sister, harms all of society and makes peace an unattainable dream, either we disarm our heart and give up violent means of solving our differences, or we destroy ourselves,” Cardinal Parolin said.

He continued, “Either we grow in fraternity all together, or we lose everything and perish all together.”

According to the 68-year-old Cardinal nonviolence is the only way to overcome divisions and solve communal differences.

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He said, “Jesus, the risen Lord, is the bond of our unity, nobody else can bring us together in communion… Without Jesus, the community will be broken down tribe by tribe, personal belief by personal belief, personal interest by personal interest.”

Cardinal Parolin encouraged Catholics not to limit their Church membership and Christian faith to baptism alone, or to passive participation in some celebrations of the Church but to receive the sacraments of Reconciliation and that of the Holy Eucharist frequently to nourish their faith.

He noted that the Church needs both genuine Christian families and generous, selfless ministers, in order to be fully the sacrament of the risen Lord.

The Church, he said, also needs agents of that peace and reconciliation.

“When people live in sin, they live in fear,” the Cardinal said, and added, “Sin makes people weak and fragile, unable to sympathize with others in their suffering, unable to strive for justice, peace, and communion, and unable to build a more fraternal community.”


He acknowledged the beauty of South Sudan, saying, “As I visit South Sudan for the third time, I can tell you that I see your enthusiasm and joyful faith, I recognize your great potential, and I assure you of my prayers.”

In his speech during Holy Mass, Bishop Christian Carlassare of the Catholic Diocese of Rumbek said the visit of Cardinal Parolin shows the “face of the Church” which he said “is a beautiful face that includes all of us.”

The visit, Bishop Carlassare said, was a clear assurance to the people of Rumbek that they are not alone “closed in walls in our own kingdom.”

“We are an open diocese; open to the universal Church that is also part of us and we are part of it,” Bishop Carlassare said.

On August 15 while in the Catholic Diocese of Malakal at the invitation of Bishop Stephen Nyodho Ador Majwok,  Cardinal Parolin comforted returnees and refugees who were displaced by the Sudan war that broke out on April 15 and expressed the closeness of the Holy Father with them.

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On his first day in the country on August 14, Cardinal Parolin urged South Sudanese to embrace the spirit of peace and reconciliation in order to build a harmonious society.

Kerbino Kuel Deng is a South Sudanese journalist who is passionate about Church communication. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.