25 January 2017

Dying for the Gospel in South Sudan

This is a story of almost anonymous martyrdom. Announcing the news, Jesus Aranda, pastor of the Church of the Sacred Heart of Lomin, in the urban zone of Kajo Jeki, said that his only name was Lino, like Peter’s first successor in Rome, who died during the persecutions of Diocletian. The pastor added that this very active catechist died in a gun battle between government forces and the SPLM-IO, which have been battling against each other for years over the supremacy in the world’s youngest state.

The Church of South Sudan claims that the Lino’s involuntary sacrifice may be a warning to the warring parties to begin a real process of reconciliation and so avoid destroying the nation.

This is the second pastoral worker killed since the beginning of 2017. His story shows us that today Christianity has become, even more than in the first centuries, a religion of martyrs, as Pope Francis has said on many occasions and reiterated at last year’s final Angelus, on 26 December 2016: “When we read the history of the first centuries, here in Rome, we read of so much cruelty toward Christians; I tell you: there is the same cruelty today, and to a greater extent, toward Christians.”