, 22 November, 2020 / 1:01 PM
Catholic Bishops in Sudan have embarked on plans to revive their development and humanitarian arm, Caritas Sudan, which has been dormant for the last nine years.
Assistant Secretary General of the Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC) Fr. Musa Timothy Kacho told ACI Africa that the move has been motivated by a seemingly promising political atmosphere exhibited through the introduction of “new policies” to replace restrictive guidelines held by the Omar al-Bashir’s regime.
Bashir was ousted 11 April 2019 in a military coup d’état following months of popular protests that called for his departure.
Media reports have indicated the possibility of separating religion from the state after three decades of Islamic rule in the Northeastern African country.
“We finished every process; what we are remaining with now is registering it under the Humanitarian Affairs Commission and I think soon we shall register and hopefully it will come back with all the help and assistance to our people,” Fr. Kacho told ACI Africa on the sideline of SCBC’s Annual Plenary Assembly Saturday, November 14 in Khartoum, Sudan.
Caritas Sudan was operational before the country split into two nations, with South Sudan breaking away through a referendum vote that led to her secession in July 2011.
Caritas Sudan offices that were previously hosted in Sudan’s Khartoum Archdiocese, according to the SCBC official, were moved to South Sudan’s capital, Juba following the 2011 secession.
“All those we were working with moved to Juba, some of them left the work and joined other organizations,” Fr. Kacho sai, adding, “The Bishops in Sudan here have been thinking of reopening this office of Caritas because of its importance in the life of the Church here in Sudan.”
Explaining the need for the presence of the Bishops’ humanitarian wing, Fr. Kacho cited the helpless situation brought about by the Sudanese disastrous floods.
“Take the example of floods that we have been grappling within Sudan. We are unable to do anything for the people who were affected because we did not have the necessary platform to help. The idea behind reopening Caritas is to provide a platform for such humanitarian assistance,” the Cleric said.
“Our people are really in great need of help and so this Caritas is one of the main strong means for evangelization to our people, not only by the word of God but also giving them something for their life,” the SCBC official said.
He continued, “Caritas also has a greatest importance in the country; it will not (just) be in Khartoum here but it will be extended to other Dioceses in the Sudan, reaching to all parishes.”
Fr. Kacho recalled that in the past, Caritas Sudan faced numerous obstacles in executing its mandate in the country.
“During the last regime, it was very difficult for our organizations to work. We were heavily monitored by the government security forces,” he said, and added, “But now the atmosphere is more friendly to operate.”
He further said, “We are already in collaboration with Caritas South Sudan and they helped us with the ideas in terms of relationship and working together.”
Mary Ajith, Director for Catholic Radio Network (CRN) contributed to this story.
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ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa