South Sudan’s “volatile security situation” Impeding Strategic Church Programs: Cardinal

Participants in the 2020-2025 strategic plan review of the Commission for Justice and Peace of the Catholic Archdiocese of Juba in South Sudan on 27 February 2024. Credit: Ginaba Lino/South Sudan

Security challenges in parts of South Sudan are impeding the implementation of activities outlined in the strategic plan of the Commission for Justice and Peace (CJP) of the Catholic Archdiocese of Juba, the Local Ordinary of the country’s only Metropolitan See has said.

In his speech at a Tuesday, February 27 gathering convened to review the Juba Archdiocese’s CJP Strategic Plan 2020-2025, Stephen Cardinal Ameyu also highlighted the achievements of Archdiocesan entity.

Cardinal Ameyu highlighted South Sudan’s “political instability” as a hinderance in realizing CJP activities outlined in the Strategic Plan 2020-2025, and explained, “The volatile political and security situation in the country has posed challenges to the commission’s efforts to promote peace and stability. Conflicts and unrest have hindered progress in certain areas.” 

The realization of the five-year CJP plans in Juba Archdiocese have also been hindered by what the South Sudanese Cardinal described as “resource constraints”.

“Limited resources have constrained the full realization of the commission’s goals and programs,” he said, adding that resource constraints have negatively “impacted the scale and effectiveness” of the initiatives of the Archdiocesan CJP.


The Catholic Church leader, who was among the three Africans created Cardinals during the 30 September 2023 Consistory highlighted the lack of requisite professional skills among a section of CJP officials and leaders at the grassroots in his Metropolitan See as another challenge in the realization of the entity’s Strategic Plan 2020-2025.

He explained, “There is need for further capacity building initiatives to enhance the skills and capabilities of commission members and community leaders.”

Equipped with requisite professional skills, Cardinal Ameyu said, the CJP officials and community leaders will be enabled “to address complex social issues more effectively”.

He went on to share strategies that have been undertaken to address the challenges, including the establishment of “mini commissions to focus on specific thematic areas such as human rights, conflict resolution, and advocacy.”

The Cardinal appealed to members of the various mini commissions in his Metropolitan See to collaborate with the Archdiocesan CJP.

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He said, “I have seen some commissions working within others in Juba; I really appeal especially to the religious communities, religious institutes, those who have justice and peace departments, to unify their efforts so that the work of justice and peace is one.”

“Efforts have been made towards unifying different initiatives and organizations working in the sphere of justice and peace,” the Local Ordinary of Juba Archdiocese, whose transfer to the Metropolitan See was resisted amid multiple protest letters further said.

He lauded the strategy of striving for synergies in implementing CJP Strategic Plan 2020-2025, saying, “By fostering collaboration and coordination among diverse stakeholders, the Commission aims to create a cohesive and unified front in addressing social challenges and promoting peace within the Archdiocese of Juba.”

Some of the achievement of the CJP of the South Sudanese Metropolitan See in the last four years that Cardinal Ameyu shared include strengthened advocacy, educational initiatives, partnerships, as well as engagement with local communities.

In Juba Archdiocese, there has been “increased awareness and engagement in addressing social issues and promoting peace”, he said to underscore the strengthened advocacy achievement, which he said had been realized through advocacy “for human rights, social justice, and peace-building initiatives within the community and at a broader societal level.”


“Through targeted community outreach programs, the Commission has been able to engage with local communities, promoting dialogue, understanding, and collaboration in addressing social challenges and fostering peaceful coexistence,” Cardinal Ameyu said in his explanation of the community engagement achievement.

Collaboration and networking in the last four years has been achieved through partnerships with the South Sudan Council of Churches (SSCC), he said about the entity that launched its Action Plan for Peace (APP) in April 2022.

In his February 27 speech, Cardinal Ameyu, who was installed as the President of the Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC) on January 10 urged the CJP in his Archdiocese to begin “working hard” to prepare the electorate for the country’s general elections later this year. 

“I hope this is the beginning of really working hard for justice and peace especially leading to elections in December,” he said, and added, “We have to stay awake in order to bring justice through the votes that we will give at the end of the year.”

On his part, the CJP Coordinator in Juba Archdiocese, Fr. Martin Ochanya, underscored the need for a national guiding policy document to inform the work of JPC across the East-Central African nation.

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“For us to operate collaboratively and effectively we need an overarching justice and peace policy upon which our work is to be grounded or anchored,” Fr. Ochanya said during the February 27 gathering in Juba.

The South Sudanese Catholic Priest added, “Every Diocese has its own way of running justice and peace work, which I think is not really good.”

The Prefect for the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development (DPIHD), who was in South Sudan for an eight-day pastoral trip that concluded on February 9 emphasized the need for South Sudanese and all the stakeholders in the ongoing peace negotiations to “be faithful” to the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS).

“Dear brothers and sisters, this is a critical moment in the political life of your country. As you prepare for the general elections, pray and work hard to ensure that it is nonviolent, fair, transparent, credible and peaceful,” Michael Cardinal Czerny said in his homily at St. Theresa’s Kator Cathedral of Juba Archdiocese on February 4.

Cardinal Czerny’s February 2-9 pastoral visit to South Sudan marked one year since the first-ever Papal visit to the country. 

The 3-5 February 2023 Ecumenical Visit, which Pope Francis realized alongside the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, Iain Greenshields, was organized under the theme, “I pray that all may be one”, taken from John 17.

Nicholas Waigwa contributed to the writing of this story

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