The arrests follow the directive from the President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir, for “an expeditious investigation” to identify, apprehend, and prosecute the perpetrators of “this heinous crime.”
In his statement issued April 26, President Kiir says he “learned with dismay the unfortunate incident that involved the Rt Rev. Christian Carlassare, Bishop-elect of Rumbek Diocese, who was shot last night by the unidentified gunmen.”
In his April 27 statement, Bishop Hiiboro challenges South Sudanese to see the attack “as an opportunity to reorganize ourselves as a nation to see how safe we can keep our people and take care of them as well as respond to those things that affect life in a gentle way and within rule of law and respect for human life.”
“I ask the whole Diocese of Tombura-Yambio to pray for Bishop-elect of the Diocese of Rumbek for quick healing and also pray in a special way for the Christian community and the people of Rumbek, may God unite and strengthen them during this trying moment,” the 57-year-old Bishop says.
Addressing himself to missionaries serving in South Sudan, the Local Ordinary of Tombura-Yambio says, “We all love you and what has happened is not something we have to call an attack on all the missionaries; the church here has been born and nurtured due to the sacrifices of many of your brothers and sisters and we thank you and them all.”
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“As your Bishops, we will continue to forge our unity especially during this moment where the Lord’s kindness to us is being manifest as He has added more shepherds to our numbers so that we can prevail against evil by doing the good things, by doing the right things,” Bishop Hiiboro says.
He implores, “We pray through St. Daniel Comboni and through St. Josephine Bakhita that they may intercede to God for quick healing and relief for Bishop-Elect Msgr. Christian.”
Msgr. Carlassare had been serving in South Sudan’s Malakal Diocese since he arrived in the East-Central African country in 2005.
He 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 for Nairobi, the Bishop-elect said he had forgiven his attackers and appealed for prayers.
“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.”
“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,” the Bishop-elect who will turn 44 in October further said.
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.”