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Catholic Church maintains unified structure for two Sudans.

October 29, 2011 (JUBA) -- The Catholic Church decided to maintain its old structure covering its activities in the two Sudans after the independence of South Sudan since July 2011. The decision was announced at the end of the plenary assembly of the Sudan Catholic Bishops' Conference, which gathers clerics from Sudan and South Sudan held at the Catholic Health Training Institute in Wau, from 19 to 28 October 2011. "We remain one bishops' conference covering the two countries," the statement said. "The Church in the two nations will continue to be in solidarity due to our shared history and the very real practical and human links between us." The conference however decided to establish two separate secretariats, one in Juba and another in Khartoum, to implement the pastoral policies of the bishops in each country. The South Sudanese churches backed the independence of the South Sudan and campaigned for the secession in January 2011 referendum on self-determination where over 98% of the South Sudanese voted for separation. The bishops pledged that the Church will continue to mediate national and local conflicts. However they underlined that their "role is not political in any partisan sense". The religious also warned southern Sudanese that they have to be patient with the government after the independence as the development of a new nation will take time. " We emphasise that not only the government, but also all political leaders and citizens, have a responsibility to build the new nation," they further said. Sudanese President Omer Hassan al-Bashir recognised the independence of the Republic of South Sudan and also vowed to implement Islamic legislation in the north Sudan. He also pledged to respect the Christian minorities in the country. "To the citizens of the Republic of Sudan, we assure you of our continued presence. The Church is with you and will continue with its programmes which bring hope. We will pray and work for the rule of law, and particularly for a just solution to the question of citizenship," the Conference said. Referring to Bashir's remarks the Catholic Church reaffirmed its rejection to "talk of 'protection of minorities' and instead insist on the rights of all citizens. We call for respect of human diversity, created by God, whether ethnic, cultural, linguistic or religious". They also urged for national reconciliation among South Sudanese " through traditional mechanisms and in the Church-led 'People to People Peace Process'" to address grievances of "many individuals and ethnic groups" in order to build a national unity in the new country. Speaking about the future relations between the two countries, the clerics called to develop a truth and reconciliation process and reaffirmed their readiness to exert the necessary efforts to support this process. The conference also urged to stop the ongoing conflict in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile and to open humanitarian corridors for the needy civilians affected by this war. On the other hand, they voiced their support to the African Union mediation for a peaceful settlement to the dispute. The Sudanese Catholic Church further said opposed to the war against the rebel Lord Resistance Army operating in Western Equatoria, Western Bahr el Ghazal, Uganda, Congo and Central African Republic. Instead they called for a negotiated solution, increased protection and humanitarian assistance for the affected populations. (ST)

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Publication:Sudan Tribune (Sudan)
Date:Oct 30, 2011
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