Archbishop Stephen Ameyu Martin Mulla issues Easter message pleading for stability in the young African nation
Stephen Ameyu Martin Mulla, the recently installed Archbishop of Juba, has called for reconciliation in South Sudan as it struggles to solidify a peace deal after six years of civil war.
« Families are destroyed, ethnic communities are disintegrated and the citizens are shattered, » he pointed out in a message published on April 18.
« Reconciliation is the only answer to this impasse, » said the 56-year-old archbishop.
He called it a « gift of God who saves humanity », but said it requires a « radical interior conversion of the heart ».
South Sudan has been shaken by violence since December 2013, two-and-a-half years after it gained independence from Sudan.
At that time, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir accused Riek Machar, his former vice-president, of fomenting a coup d’état.
The conflict provoked numerous atrocities, leaving more than 380,000 people dead and 4 million displaced.
Machar, as rebel leader, and President Kiir signed a peace agreement on Feb. 20 and formed a national unity government.
On February 22, Machar became the first vice-president, in accordance with an earlier peace agreement signed in 2018.
The new Archbishop of Juba
Archbishop Mulla, who was installed as head of the Church in the South Sudanese capital on March 22, has vowed to make unity and reconciliation a main focus of his episcopal leadership.
« Let us pray that the devil who wants us to be separated will be driven out, » he said at his installation Mass, which was heavily guarded by security forces.
His appointment last December was challenged by some in the archdiocese on ethnic grounds.
But after a Vatican-led investigation was completed on March 6, Mulla was confirmed as archbishop and his installation went ahead, despite continued protests.
« I strongly urge the people of South Sudan to learn to forgive and reconcile, as did the heroes of the past, the children of Africa, such as Nelson Mandela, » Archbishop Mulla said in his Easter Season message.
He also announced the creation of an independent truth and reconciliation commission to enable every citizen of the world’s youngest nation to « speak the truth ».
Lucie Sarr (Traduction La Croix International)
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