South Sudanese Catholic Clerics among Detainees Released Following Bishop-elect's Shooting

The Holy Family Cathedral of South Sudan's Rumbek Diocese. Credit: Courtesy Photo

Two South Sudanese Catholic Clerics are among dozens released last week after spending over two weeks in detention following their suspected connection with the shooting of the Bishop-elect of South Sudan’s Rumbek Diocese, Msgr. Christian Carlassare.

The two members of the Clergy of Rumbek Diocese, Fr. Luka Dor and Deacon Stephen Mangar, were among over 20 detainees “conditionally” set free May 14, most of them employees of the South Sudanese Diocese.

“Some have been conditionally released for lack of concrete evidence against them,” a source in South Sudan’s Lakes State covered by Rumbek Diocese told ACI Africa, adding that their release from detention “doesn't mean that they are completely set free. They have been ordered to stay within the boundaries of Lakes State.”

“The rest who have been found to have strong evidence have been transferred to prison awaiting the beginning of case trial,” the source further said, and confirmed that the former Coordinator of the Diocese, Fr. John Mathiang, was “moved to prison with a few others.”

A total of 41 had initially been detained, a source close to the investigation told ACI Africa Monday, May 17, adding that most of them have been conditionally set free and that only four are being detained for further investigation.


“Three are in Rumbek's cell and the other one who was caught in Juba is still in a Juba cell,” a source told ACI Africa in reference to one of the two gunmen arrested in the South Sudanese capital city while trying to flee to Uganda.

Msgr. Carlassare who was appointed Bishop for Rumbek Diocese March 8 was shot in both legs during the early hours of April 26 when two armed men shot multiple bullets on his door, gaining access to his room in a block that houses Fathers serving at Holy Family Cathedral of the South Sudanese Diocese.

He received initial treatment at the health facility under the auspices of Doctors with Africa CUAMM in Rumbek and later airlifted to Kenya’s capital, Nairobi the same day he had been shot.

The Italian-born member of the Comboni Missionaries who was discharged from The Nairobi hospital Monday, May 17 had been ministering in Malakal Diocese most of his 16-year Priestly service in South Sudan. He had arrived in Rumbek Diocese on April 15.

His episcopal ordination that had been scheduled to take place on Pentecost Sunday, May 23 has since been postponed. On May 5, the Holy Father appointed Bishop Matthew Remijio of South Sudan’s Wau Diocese as the Apostolic Administrator of Rumbek Diocese, with the mandate to temporarily govern the Diocese until Msgr. Carlassare “is healed, ordained and takes over the governance of that Diocese, hopefully as soon as possible.”

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Rumbek Diocese became vacant on 16 July 2011 following the sudden death of Bishop Caesar Mazzolari, a member of the Comboni Missionaries.

Fr. Fernando Colombo, also 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.

“Some staff of the Diocese of Rumbek who were arrested have been released; they are about 18 to 20; Fr. Luka and Deacon Mangar are out of detention also,” Fr. Andrea Osman told ACI Africa Monday, May 17.

Fr. Osman added, “I don’t know whether those remaining (in custody) are guilty or innocent. It is the security and the investigators who know about them. For a case like this, justice has always to take place; justice should be done.”

At this time, the member of the Clergy of Rumbek Diocese further said, “we call for reconciliation and repentance; for those who have anything in their hearts, they have to repent.”


Msgr. Carlassare has also called for reconciliation and justice inspired by the “heart of God.”

In an ACI Africa video recording from his hospital bed at The Nairobi hospital a day after the attack, Msgr. Carlassare described the April 26 shooting experience as life-threatening and urged reconciliation and “justice with the same heart of God.”

Peter Mapuor Makur, ACI Africa's Juba-based Correspondent contributed to this story.