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Praying with refugees in South Sudan: a call for peace
Saturday, February 01, 2014

Returnees in Kajo Keji, South Sudan take part in a Jesuit Refugee Service pastoral project in 2012 (Sergio Camara/JRS).
With all my strength, I urge each party in this conflict to listen to their consciences, not to focus solely on their own interests, but, rather, to see each other as brothers and sisters.
Tombura-Yambio, 1 February 2014 — The people of South Sudan have experienced far more than their share of suffering. Modern historians tell us that more than 4.5 million people died in our wars of independence, with similar numbers unaccounted for in past decades. Our nation needs to embrace the past to avoid repeating the mistakes that caused death, suffering and humiliation on a massive scale. I, therefore, appeal strongly for peace in South Sudan, an appeal which comes from deep within me.

This most recent outbreak of conflict causes me great suffering and worry; but my heart is deeply wounded in particular by what is happening in and around the South Sudanese states of Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile and anguished by the dramatic developments on the horizon.

In addition to prayer, we in the Diocese of Tombura-Yambio urge you to fast on the next three Fridays in favour of peace in solidarity those in South Sudan who are who are unable to gain access to humanitarian assistance. The humanitarian situation in many parts of the country has been worsen. Let us use this time to mobilise whatever resources we can for the needy.

As people of goodwill, we are bound by the task of pursuing peace to work hard together. I make a forceful and urgent call to the entire Catholic Church and to Christians of other confessions, as well as to followers of every religion and to those brothers and sisters who do not believe: peace is a good that overcomes every barrier, because it belongs to all of humanity!

With all my strength, I urge each party in this conflict to listen to their consciences, not to focus solely on their own interests, but, rather, to see each other as brothers and sisters and courageously to follow the path of encounter, dialogue, and pardon, and so overcome blind conflict. It is neither a culture of confrontation, nor a culture of conflict, which builds harmony within and between peoples. A culture of encounter and of dialogue is the only way to peace.

Let us ask Mary Mother of God to help us to respond to the violence, to conflict and to war, with the power of dialogue, reconciliation and love. She is our mother. May she help all her children find peace!

Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us!

Barani Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Tombura-Yambio, South Sudan

Reflections for Prayer
Almighty God, who has given us this good land of South Sudan for our heritage; we humbly beseech You that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of Your favour and glad to do Your will. Bless our land with honourable ministry, sound learning, and pure manners.

Save us from violence, discord, and confusion, from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion us into one united people, of South Sudan, of one nation.

We pray with St Francis of Assisi for True peace in South Sudan:

"Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;

where there is hatred, let me sow love;

when there is injury, pardon;

where there is doubt, faith;

where there is despair, hope;

where there is darkness, light;

and where there is sadness, joy.

Grant that I may not so much seek

to be consoled as to console;

to be understood, as to understand,

to be loved as to love;

for it is in giving that we receive,

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life"

Endow with Your spirit of wisdom those to whom in Your name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that through obedience to Your law, we may show forth Your praise among the children of South Sudan.

In time of prosperity Lord Jesus Christ, fill our hearts in this new country with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, let our trust in You not fail, we ask this through Christ our Lord, Amen.

Catholic Diocese of Tombura-Yambio – Western Equatoria State

Suggested Reading for Prayer
Matthew 5: 9 - 14

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, 9 for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you (falsely) because of me.

Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
"You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.