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Resolutions of the Sudan Catholic Bishops' Conference

Resolutions of the Sudan Catholic Bishops' Conference 
A Pastoral Letter of the Catholic Bishops of Sudan 
24 August 1999


In war-torn Sudan, the Bishops’ conference can only meet outside their own country. Last year they published a pastoral document and programme to encourage Christian communities to work for peace. In this year’s conference, the Bishop’s evaluated their pastoral programme and issued resolutions to deepen their process which begun last year. They pledge to set-up Justice and Peace Committees at all levels. (From AMECEA Documentation Services, October 1999) 

Preamble 

We, the Catholic Bishops of the Sudan, gathered in Nairobi from August 12th to 27th for the annual Plenary Assembly of our Bishops' Conference, devoted several sessions to exploring and devising new strategies in our effort to bring peace to our war-torn country. We reaffirmed the validity of the commitments we had taken in the past, particularly in the document "‘Vision, Mission and Values’ For a Renewed Commitment to Peace", in 1997, and our programme for "Peace through Reconciliation", in 1998.
We recalled the efforts others have made for peace, among them, the three peace talks organised under the auspices of Inter-Governmental Authority for Development (IGAD), the peace talks between the Dinka and Nuer at Wunlit, the negotiated settlement to the conflict in Chukudum. We however felt that the IGAD Peace Talks could have been more decisive in the quest for peace in the Sudan.

 Despite these signs of hope, we recalled other incidents, which clearly indicate that peace in Sudan is still a long way off. Since our Plenary in September 1998: - 

  • Thousands of People have died in and around Wau simply because appeals for Relief to these areas were ignored by the International Community, by the Sudan People's Liberation Movement\Army (SPLM\A) and by the Sudan Government, and also because the Sudan Government banned relief flights to these areas precisely at the moment they needed them most.
  • Serious armed conflicts erupted in and around Bentiu between armed factions sponsored by the Sudan Government and the SPLM\A.
  • In the Chukudum area fights of a tribal nature broke out between the SPLM\A and the local population, leaving behind several dead, and villages sown with anti-personnel mines.
  • On its part, the Sudan Government has kept up systematic and indiscriminate aerial bombardments mostly against civilian targets. Of late there are even serious suspicions that it used chemical based bombs in one of its air raids.
  • All over the Sudan the poor and the displaced suffer from privation, ill treatment, discrimination and injustices of various kinds. 
All this has convinced us that any peace effort we undertake must be coupled with decisive efforts to ensure justice for all. Justice and Peace must walk hand in hand and become an integral part of our overall pastoral ministry. We want our Conference, Dioceses and Parishes right down to the least Christian Communities to be seriously involved in creating and maintaining an atmosphere in which Justice and Peace can thrive.
 
We resolved, therefore, to identify and set before us: 
  1. the kind of structures we need at each of these levels;
  2. the kind of Action or tasks each level should undertake; and,
  3. the kind of information we need to gather or divulge in order to work more effectively for Justice and Peace. 

A. Structures: 

As regards Structures, we resolve: - 
  1. To set up Diocesan Justice and Peace Committees in each of our Dioceses.
  2. To establish Justice and Peace Commissions at the National and Regional Levels of our Conference. These Commissions will handle national Justice and Peace Issues and be points of reference and input for the Dioceses.
  3. To launch a research project on traditional ways of resolving conflicts.
  4. To set up within the Sudan Catholic Bishops' Regional Conference (SCBRC) a Scholarship Program for vocational training and higher education.
  5. To entrust to the Administrative Board of the Sudan Catholic Bishops' Conference (SCBC\SCBRC), assisted by their appointed delegates, the responsibility to follow-up any advocacy issues related to the Conference.
  6. To form working groups within the SCBC\SCBRC, to develop Peace oriented programs in association with other Episcopal Conferences and interested Religious Congregations, and in collaboration with agencies and experts in the field of Justice and Peace, whenever necessary.

B. Action:

We spelt out the type of action each of the above mentioned structures should undertake. We resolve that:

 

1.Justice and Peace Committees will initiate programs of formation in the Social Teaching of the Church for Church Personnel, particularly the Clergy, Religious and Catechists, through courses, seminars, workshops and other available means.
2.The working groups mentioned in (A.6) above, with the help of our partners inside and outside the Sudan, will develop ways:

 

 

 

 

 

 

a. to identify and enlist suitable personnel to assist us in the peace process, and to organise and run projects for general development, education and health, and the formation of Sudanese cadres at all levels, namely, National, Regional, and Diocesan;
b. to raise funds for the short and long range support and development of the projects and programmes mentioned in (2a).
c. to set up communications and advocacy networks in Several countries that will faithfully reflect the common vision and the one genuine voice of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Sudan for a just peace.

 

 

 

3.

 

 

 

We will do all we can to expand and strengthen the existing ecumenical initiatives for reconciliation between groups in conflict. We will encourage and urge all tribal leaders and elders to use their traditional methods of conflict resolution as a valid contribution on their part to the peace process in the Sudan.

 

 

 

4.

 

 

 

We will encourage different tribal and other groups to cooperate in common projects as a means to improve relationships among them.

 

 

 

5.

 

 

 

We will strengthen and improve our existing social, educational and health services, and make them available to as many more people as possible. We will place greater emphasis on services that educate people for life.

 

 

 

6.

 

 

 

We will encourage and train our people for self-reliance through:

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Capacity building (training) for self-employment, and,
  • The development of cooperatives.

 

 

 

7.

 

 

 

We recognise and appreciate the active involvement of women in peace making, development, and family life, and will include them in our peace making efforts in the future.

 

 

 

8.

 

 

 

In the light of our Faith we will exhort our christians to believe that to forgive is an act of strength and virtue in God's plan and that forgiveness, given and sought, is the first step to reconciliation.

 

 

 

9.

 

 

 

We will continue to exercise active non-violence by denouncing injustices, affronts to human dignity and violations of human rights; by resisting intimidation, initiating and entering into dialogue, writing relevant letters and using the media. We consider active non-violence as a way to oppose and resist oppressors and to make them aware of the evil they do to their brothers and sisters.

 

 

 

10.

 

 

 

We will call for the promotion and the establishment of a government based on justice and civil-democracy, rather than on military power.

 

 

 

11.

 

 

 

We will try to counteract internal factors in our communities that promote conflicts and division (tribalism, power struggle ...) by meeting and addressing the people involved in such actions, e.g. soldiers, chiefs, personnel of all churches and political leaders.

 

 

 

12.

 

 

 

We will express our reasons for hope more often, and encourage others to do the same, e.g. by recalling past successes in reconciliation between groups, the SCBC Pastoral Letters on Peace, the peace efforts of IGAD and other well meaning persons and groups, and by encouraging constant prayer for peace.

 

 

 

13.

 

 

 

We will adopt the following ways for the promotion of Justice and Peace:

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Help the people to seek light and strength in their faith.
  • Instill into small Christian Communities and schools the correct understanding of human rights.
  • Appeal to traditional ways of resolving conflicts.
  • Encourage the people to make use of the power of active non-violence.
  • Educate the people to become critically aware of their situation and of the potential that is in them.
  • Encourage the people to participate actively and responsibly in civil life.
  • Promote the dialogue of life.
  • Promote the spirit of solidarity.
  • Form people's consciences (the formation of consciences).
  • Educate in the sense of responsibility, to enable them to take charge of their lives and become productive and creative.
  • Create in the people the sense of responsibility for future generations.

 

 

 

C. Information:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Very often our people suffer and we are not well informed about what is happening around us. We therefore resolve that: -

 

 

 

1.

 

 

 

We will try to raise awareness in the oppressed of the evil they endure at the hands of their oppressors and in the oppressors of the evil they inflict on their victims.

 

 

 

2.

 

 

 

We will try to obtain accurate information about the propaganda and policies of the Sudan Government and of the Movement and make them available to the Sudanese Bishops, foreign embassies, other Episcopal conferences, Members of Parliament (MPs) of other countries human rights groups and the foreign media.

 

 

 

Conclusion

 

 

 

At the conclusion of this list of resolutions, we are aware that we have in some way imposed our ideas and commitments even on persons that we do not know. We have requested the help and co-operation of countries, Episcopal Conferences, donor agencies, and our entire Dioceses. This is to express our conviction that Peace will not come to the Sudan unless all persons of good will put their hands to the plough and pull or push really hard. Our hope is that all who find themselves called upon even in general terms, will volunteer to help us in our struggle to restore peace to the Sudan, and well being to its people.

 

 

 

We are fully aware of the margin between resolution and action. We however rely on God's help and trust that He will give us the strength to pursue the programme we have set before us.

 

 

 

We trust that God in his mercy and compassion will bless our efforts and bring them to a successful ending.

 

 

 

We entrust our peace project to the intercession of Mary the Queen of Peace and our Mother, and to the intercession of Blessed Comboni and Blessed Bakhita,

 

 

 

We believe that one day we also
will be able to say with the psalmist:
Those who sow in tears will reap with cries of joy.
Those who go forth weeping, carrying sacks of seed,
Will return with cries of joy, carrying their bundled sheaves:

 

 

 

Peace in the Sudan. (cfr. Ps, 126: 5-6)

 

 

 

M. Rev. Paulino Lukudu Loro Juba, President - SCBC
M. Rev. Gabriel Zubeir Wako Khartoum
Rt. Rev. Joseph Gasi Abangite Tambura-Yambio
Rt. Rev. Vincent Mojwok Nyiker Malakal
Rt. Rev. Erkolano Lodu Tombe Yei
Rt. Rev. Macram Max Gassis El Obeid
Rt. Rev. Deng Majak Rudolph Wau
Rt. Rev. Caesar Mazzolari Rumbek
Rt. Rev. Antonio Menegazzo Apost Adm. El Obeid
Rt. Rev. Daniel Adwok Kur Aux. Khartoum
Rt. Rev. Johnson Mutek Aux. Torit
Rt. Rev. Paride Taban Torit (Absent with apologies)