South Sudan church leaders call on Christians to spread joy, peace

JUBA, South Sudan (CNS) – Even in the midst of an economic crisis, political confusion and ongoing violent conflicts, Christians in South Sudan must remain hopeful and share Christmas joy with the world. , said the leaders of the South Sudan Council of Churches.

A great sign of hope, they said, was the first “ecumenical pilgrimage of peace” led by Pope Francis, Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury and Rev. will also visit Juba on Feb. 3-5.

“They come to support and encourage the continuation of the unity of the church for the good of the nation across religions, political divisions and nations,” said the Christmas council released in the December 16th.

The conference includes leaders of the Presbyterian, Catholic and Anglican communities as well as representatives of the four smaller churches in the country where 60% of the population identifies as Christian.

The decision of the pope, the bishop and the reformer to visit the country together, will show “a unity that represents a peaceful South Sudan; a union that represents reconciliation and forgiveness It’s possible – and relationships can be changed,” the council said.

After years of civil war, the “Transitional Government of National Unity” took office in 2020, but tensions continued. And, in early December, new violence broke out in Upper Nile State, killing at least 150 civilians and displacing more than 20,000 people. The UN Refugee Agency estimated in November that around 2 million South Sudanese had been internally displaced.

In Upper Nile State, there is a “deteriorating humanitarian situation due to violent armed conflict that displaced the vulnerable, killed innocent lives, destroyed communities in ancestral villages,” it said. by the council, adding that “children who did not go with their parents. who died in violent conflicts.

“The flight of injured civilians and reports of murders, injuries, violence against men, robbery, theft, looting and burning property,” said the leader of the church, calling on the government to act and on the international community to provide assistance.

“It’s a difficult task to share joy” in such pain, they said, but “our family and our community need that ‘joy to the world’ of the new healer.”

“Even in this darkness of our world, we all need to celebrate the real Christmas, with all our heart and all our strength,” said the message. “This is because Christmas is a celebration of hope, peace, joy and love, and the coming of the light of Christ to dispel the darkness of sin in the world.”