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Call for day of prayer for South Sudan reinforces message of peace

Call for day of prayer for South Sudan reinforces message of peace

Fr James Oyet Latansio, SSCC general secretary. Photo: Claus Grue/WCC

20 February 2018

On 23 February Pope Francis has called for a worldwide day of prayer and fasting for South Sudan and The Democratic Republic of Congo; two countries plagued by conflict, unrest and famine.

The call is heeded by the World Council of Churches and all are encouraged to join in the prayer.

For the South Sudan Council of Churches (SSCC), the announcement from the Pope is good news:

“This is actually the second time he calls for a prayer for South Sudan. It means a lot to know that we are not alone in our suffering and pain. The ecumenical world is with us on our journey towards peace and reconciliation”, says Fr James Oyet Latansio, SSCC general secretary.

Earlier this month, the SSCC issued a pastoral letter to the government of South Sudan and the opposition urging them to compromise.

“They have been discussing revitalization of the peace of 2016 and we, as their church, their pastors and spiritual leaders, now call upon them to consider the sufferings and pains of the people of South Sudan. We call upon them to exercise restraint, forgiveness, tolerance, love and reconciliation”, Latansio explains.

Since their independence in 2011, the people of South Sudan have endured famine, civil war and atrocities which has displaced millions and created a huge refugee-wave across the borders to Uganda and Kenya.

“It has been a turbulent time with man-made hunger and famine, where especially women and children have suffered. The situation is still bad and people live in fear,” says Latansio, who himself has been robbed at gunpoint in his hometown Juba.

He welcomes the Pope’s announcement which reinforces the messages of peace from the churches in South Sudan. The call for prayer coincides with Lent, which for Catholics is a period of fasting, conversion, prayers and renewal. Lent started on 14 February and lasts for 40 days.

The call from the Vatican came when Latansio attended a meeting for religious leaders at the United Nations in Vienna to prevent incitement to violence that could lead to atrocity crimes.

“At this very important meeting concrete commitments were made by church leaders and other actors all over the world to turn strategies against hate speech and incitement to violence into action. Along with the call from Pope Francis, that reinforces me to continue advocating – and beating the drum in my country – for justice and peace”, concludes Latansio.

WCC encourages participation in day of prayer for South Sudan, DRC (WCC press release of 16 February 2018)

Event: Day of prayer and fasting for peace in South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, 23 February 2018

Turning plans into action to prevent incitement to violence (WCC press release of 14 February 2018)

As South Sudan talks unfold, church leaders prioritise peace (WCC press release of 14 February 2018)