In his statement, the South Sudanese President implores, “I pray for God to strengthen the Rt. Rev. Carlassare’s faith in serving our people so that he can come back to his flock with renewed determination to serve the faithful in the Diocese. I wish him speedy recovery.”
In what seems to be initiatives to implement the President's directives, Deputy Governor of Lakes State confirmed to ACI Africa in an interview that some people have been apprehended.
“Investigations are underway, and we have link information to find suspects. Some arrests have been made and more are being made, hopefully within the next 24 hours, something substantive would have been done by the government regarding the shooting of the Bishop,” Poth Madit told ACI Africa April 26.
Mr. Madit termed the attack on the Bishop-elect as an “isolated incident” perpetrated by a group of criminals whose network, he said, has already been established.
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“Hopefully within the next 24 hours, we may apprehend the actual culprits. Of the arrests so far, we are questioning some of the people in the Church,” the Deputy Governor further said and added, “The arrests are going on but when I left from where people are being taken, there were about eleven.”
In an April 26 statement, the leadership of the South Sudan Human Rights Commission (SSHRC) condemns the attack on Msgr. Carlassare saying he was the “sole target of the attack.”
“The event leading to this unfortunate development and other relevant information, it has become clear that the Bishop-elect was sole target of the attack,” the leadership SSHRC states.
“The Commission hereby condemns this barbaric act in strongest terms possible and urges both the State and National Government to institute an investigation committee to conduct thorough investigation with the aim of holding the culprits accountable,” the leadership of the Juba-based Commission further says.
It adds, “While the Government conducts its investigation, the Commission urges the faithful to remain calm as we shall closely monitor the investigation and equally do our own fact finding and keep the general public informed of any latest developments.”
Msgr. Carlassare had been serving in South Sudan’s Malakal Diocese since he arrived in the East-Central African country in 2005.
The Italian-born Comboni Missionary Cleric traveled to Rumbek Diocese April 15 following days of spiritual retreat in South Sudan’s capital, Juba.
His episcopal ordination was scheduled to take place on Pentecost Sunday, May 23.
As he left Rumbek’s Teaching for further treatment in Kenya, the Bishop-elect appealed for prayers and asked for forgiveness for the perpetrators of the attack.
“Pray for me and let’s all pray for the Diocese of Rumbek that God may have mercy on us and receive His graces,” Msgr. Calassare implored and added, “We also need to forgive those who committed this kind of action.”
The Bishop-elect who will turn 44 in October further said, “Let us be united in prayer, let us be good Christians and trust the Lord and that the Lord may do something good. I thank the doctors, Priests and people of the Church for being with me during this moment of suffering from the night till now.”
He has also reassured his Comboni Missionary confreres that he is well, inviting them “to pray especially for the people of Rumbek who – in his words – ‘are suffering more than him’ (and) that he forgives his assailants.”
Rumbek Diocese became vacant in July 2011 following the sudden death of Bishop Caesar Mazzolari. The Comboni Missionary Bishop collapsed during the celebration of Holy Eucharist on the morning of 16 July 2011, one week after South Sudan’s independence, and was confirmed dead at the Rumbek State Hospital that morning.
Fr. Fernando Colombo, a member of the Comboni Missionaries governed the Diocese as Diocesan Administrator until 27 December 2013, when Fernando Cardinal Filoni, then Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, appointed Fr. Mathiang Diocesan Coordinator.