On 11 July, Cardinal Vincent and Bishop William Kenney, the Bishop responsible for relations with South Sudan, issued a statement on behalf of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales praying for peace in South Sudan.
In their statement, they expressed their sorrow at the 'tragedy' of 'severe violence' that has returned to South Sudan and called for violence to cease and that 'people whatever their differences should build a nation of peace'.
The bishops offered prayers for those who have died and their families. They also 'ask for God's forgiveness for those who have carried out these acts'.
They also asked the international community to support efforts for peace amd for Cafod, already present in the country, 'as a matter of urgency to determine what humanitarian action it can take'.
The full statement from Cardinal Vincent Nichols and Bishop William Kenney CP follows:
Yahweh puts an end to wars over the whole wide world, he breaks the bow, he snaps the spear, shields he burns in the fire. Be still and acknowledge that I am God, supreme over nations, supreme over the world. (Psalm 46.9-10)
It is with these words that the South Sudanese Council of Churches begins its statement concerning the situation in Juba and South Sudan which was read on South Sudanese national radio yesterday.
It is a tragedy that severe violence has returned to South Sudan, still the youngest country in the world. We know from our own contact with this country that it could with proper development be one of the most successful of African nations. We ask that violence should cease and that people whatever their differences should build a nation of peace.
Our thoughts are with those who have been killed particularly in Juba and in Wau and with their families. We pray for their eternal rest, and we pray for comfort for those who have been bereaved. We ask for God’s forgiveness for those who have carried out these acts, but also that they should cease these acts and commit themselves to peace.
Our thoughts are with the many thousands who, even within Juba itself, have fled looking for security and food. We ask that the various church compounds be regarded as places of sanctuary. We ask that the international community takes this situation seriously and supports the efforts for peace which are being made by many agencies. We will ask CAFOD, already present in the country, as a matter of urgency, to determine what humanitarian action it can take.
Our thoughts are with our brother Bishops in South Sudan and we assure them that they are not forgotten. We pray for peace and calm, and ask the Catholic Church in England and Wales to pray for the people of South Sudan. We ask the Lord to ‘put an end to war’ and to ‘break the bow’ and ‘snap the spear’.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols
President of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales
Bishop William Kenney CP
CBCEW Contact Bishop for South Sudan.