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Episcopal Ordination of Bishop-elect for South Sudan’s Rumbek Diocese “postponed to 2022”

Bishop-elect for Rumbek Diocese, South Sudan. Credit: Courtesy Photo

The Episcopal Ordination of Msgr. Christian Carlassare who was appointed Bishop for the Catholic Diocese of Rumbek (DoR) in March has been postponed to next year. 

Msgr. Carlassare’s Episcopal Ordination had been initially scheduled to take place on Pentecost Sunday, 23 May 2021 but was postponed after he was shot in both legs on April 26

“It is my duty to inform you, on behalf of the Holy See, that the episcopal consecration of the Bishop-elect of Rumbek, Rev. Christian Carlassare, has been postponed to 2022, at a date still to be determined,” the Apostolic Nuncio in Kenya and South Sudan, Archbishop Bert van Megen announces in a statement dated October 30.

In the letter addressed to Local Ordinaries and Apostolic Administrators in Sudan and South Sudan, the representative of the Holy Father commends “the Bishop-elect and the Diocese of Rumbek to your fervent prayers.”

Msgr. Carlassare was shot during the early hours of April 26 when two armed men fired multiple bullets on his door, gaining access to his room in a block that houses Priests serving at Holy Family Cathedral of DoR.

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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, where he was admitted at The Nairobi Hospital.

In an ACI Africa video recording from his hospital bed on April 27, the Bishop-elect described the shooting as life-threatening but called for reconciliation and “justice with the same heart of God” among the people of Rumbek

“It will take some time for my legs to be able again to walk but I assure you that I will be back and I will be with you,” the Italian-born Cleric who had ministered in South Sudan’s Malakal Diocese since his arrival in the nation in 2005 said in his message to the people of God in Rumbek a day after he had been shot.

He added that on the day he was shot, he “called to the government and the community and all the people of Rumbek asking for forgiveness: to forgive those that committed this act, forgiveness that is not just being naive and leaving aside errors but correct errors not with violence, but with dialogue and forgiveness."

"I feel that the community of Rumbek needs much forgiveness to be able to dialogue and to come together,” Msgr. Carlassare told ACI Africa April 27.

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Days later, the member of the Comboni Missionaries said he was offering his pain for the purification of Rumbek Diocese.

“I bend low in front of God to intercede for the Church of Rumbek. I pray for the conversion of sinners. I offer the pain I'm going through so that the Lord, our God, may purify the church of Rumbek from all errors and things like these may happen no more; no room for violence, division, (and) selfish desires that come from the devil,” Msgr. Carlassare said May 4. 

On May 5, Pope Francis appointed Bishop Matthew Remijio of South Sudan’s Wau Diocese as the Apostolic Administrator of DoR with the mandate to temporarily govern the Diocese until the Bishop-elect is “healed, ordained and takes over the governance of that Diocese, hopefully as soon as possible.”

The Bishop-elect was discharged from hospital for home care on May 17.

In June, police in South Sudan’s Lakes State arrested the second of “the potential suspects” directly involved in the shooting of the Bishop-elect.

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The suspect who was arrested on June 11 brought the number of those detained following the April 26 early morning shooting to six individuals, including Fr. John Mathiang who served as the Diocesan Coordinator of DoR.

Multiple sources have confirmed to ACI Africa that the suspects in the shooting of the Bishop-elect are currently detained in Juba, having been transferred from Rumbek.