The anticipated visit of the Holy Father Pope Francis to South Sudan is seen as the last hope for restoration of peace in a country that has been riddled by internal conflict since December 2013 when civil war erupted.
In an exclusive interview with AMECEA Online News in Nairobi-Kenya, the Archbishop of Juba Most Rev. Paulino Lukudu Loro, F.S.C.J, said that the imminent visit of the Holy Father will give hope to a nation that has seen little peace since its independence in July 2011.
“By seeing the Holy Father in South Sudan, addressing citizens in their own land, having a feel of the South Sudanese’ suffering, it is going to be a big moral support to the people of South Sudan,” said Archbishop Lukudu.
Archbishop Lukudu held that the people of South Sudan are longing for peace, the religious leaders have done their best to help stop the conflict, the international communities have intervened yet lasting peace is still very eluding.
He believes that the coming of the Holy Father who is not just the leader of the Catholic Church but a world leader who has been very instrumental in calling out for peace and end of conflicts not only in South Sudan but elsewhere in the world, will have a great influence in the heart of the people who perpetuate the violence.
“I am certain that the people of South Sudan are ready to listen to the Holy Father, Political leaders in South Sudan are ready to listen to the Holy Father, even those fighting in the bush are ready to listen to the Holy Father; he is our last hope,” the Archbishop said.
“The way forward to a lasting depends on a number of factors, on top of the list is to stop killing, stop violence, stop fighting. Secondly there is need to sit down and talk, and this can only happen when the fighting has stopped, when violence and the sound of guns have ceased,” Archbishop Lukudu said adding that as leaders of the Catholic Church and other religious leaders in the country, they are willing to go to the bush and initiate talks with the rebels.
“There can be no reconciliation when people remain in the bush, yet there is a great need for an inclusive dialogue, something that has not happened in the past,” he said.
He explained that the conflict in South Sudan is mainly perpetuated by ethnic hatred. “Conflict in South Sudan is not political because if that was the case then parliament has structures which would have well addressed the dispute. It is neither perpetuated by religion because we live peacefully with our Muslim brothers and sisters and South Sudan is a largely a Christian Country.”
He said that the country has 65 tribes and ethnic differences existed while the army was still fighting for independence. Both the dominating ethnic communities wanted power. Unfortunately, the tribes did not sit down at independence to deliberate on the contentious issues of how to run the affairs of the country.
“However, all hope is not lost,” he said adding “I am sure the leaders will heed to the voice of the Holy Father and work towards restoring peace in South Sudan for a better future.”
By Pamela Adinda