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Day of Prayer and Fasting: South Sudan Council of Churches, “it means a lot to know that we are not alone”

“This is actually the second time the Pope calls for a prayer for South Sudan. It means a lot to know that we are not alone in our suffering and pain” and that “the ecumenical world is with us on our journey towards peace and reconciliation”. Father James Oyet Latansio, General Secretary of the South Sudan Council of Churches (SSCC), expressed gratitude to Pope Francis for his decision to hold 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 World Council of Churches (WCC) had sent to all of its members the letter from Cardinal Kurt Koch in which the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity reiterated Pope Francis’ invitation, also addressed to our “non-Catholic brothers and sisters”, to join in the Day of Prayer and Fasting. In a statement relayed by the WCC today, Father Latansio revealed that, earlier in February, the SSCC had issued a pastoral letter to the government of South Sudan and the opposition urging them both 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”. Since 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”, said Father Latansio, who himself has been robbed at gunpoint in his hometown of Juba. The Pope’s announcement “reinforces the messages of peace from the Churches in South Sudan” and the call to prayer coincides with “Lent, which for Catholics is a period of fasting, conversion, prayers and renewal”.

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