21 September 2018
Ad Limina Visit

Christ, Living Bread and Peace for Sudan

On 6 September, the Dicastery’s Secretary, Father Alexandre Awi Mello, and some officials received a small delegation from the Episcopal Conference of Sudan on the occasion of their ad limina visit to Rome

On 6 September, the Dicastery’s Secretary, Father Alexandre Awi Mello, and some officials received a small delegation from the Episcopal Conference of Sudan on the occasion of their ad limina visit to Rome.

The Bishops of Sudan and South Sudan—of two historically different ethnic and religious composition and culture—made the precise choice, despite the split in 2011, to remain a single episcopal conference in the name of “a shared history.” The Churches on both sides of the country share the same harrowing problems: the armed conflicts continue to bleed these two countries, sowing death and causing destruction, millions of displaced persons and refugees, famines and hunger; persecutions against Christians and other minorities are daily news. This Church lack priests while large areas are still waiting to hear the first proclamation of the Gospel. Among the faithful, there is a certain religious nomadism: continuous war, with the consequent dismantling of the structures and destruction of infrastructures, the endemic scarcity of means, and the lack of personnel largely explain the poor formation of many of the faithful. Without a solid baggage of faith and tested by the anguishes of life, they easily fall prey to sects that promise bread and a better life.

Speaking about international movements and associations, the pastors expressed their appreciation for their praiseworthy apostolic commitment, especially for helping, in the context, the populations exhausted by wars, famine and famine. Their contribution in the process of reconciliation and pacification of a country torn by hatred and tribalism has also been widely recognized; yet, they have also expressed concern about the inexorable numerical reduction of their presence because of the growing insecurity in the country and the heavy hand of the authorities on the religious institutes.

Regarding the family, however, the Bishops highlighted the crisis that this institution is experiencing in Sudan. Many families have collapsed because of the war: many orphans and many spouses are alone; family units have been uprooted from their land and deprived of every means of support. The devastating consequences of the family’s disintegration include many children living on the streets, a high rate of school dropouts, many child soldiers born and raised in war, young people for whom the Sudanese Church feels strongly called to rekindle hope, showing them care that goes through psychological and social recovery. However, the Bishops also noted, in the field of family pastoral care, that mixed marriages in the Sudanese context most often lead the Catholic party to renounce his or her faith.

Despite this rather gloomy picture, the Church continues her mission with courage and generosity, nourishing hope in hearts, strengthening the Christian identity as an antidote to hatred and proclaiming Christ, living bread and true peace for the Sudan.