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CHURCH PERSONNEL MAKE RECOMMENDATION TO BOTH GOVERNMENT AND CATHOLIC CHURCH REGARD EVANGELIZATION AND EDUCATION

28 April 2016 – A group of forty-six church personnel from different backgrounds (religious, diocesan priests, catechists, lay people working in Catholic education institutions and catechists) attended a four days workshop on evangelization and education. The event took place in Juba, South Sudan, in April 2016.

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CHURCH PERSONNEL TO ATTEND WORKSHOP ON ‘LAUDATO SI’ AND MINISTRY IN SOUTH SUDAN

24 April 2016 – The Religious Superior’s Association in South Sudan (RSASS) will hold its annual conference later this week (April 27-30, 2016) in Juba, South Sudan. Some 76 Religious men and women from across the country are expected to attend this assembly.

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AN APPEAL TO THE CATHOLIC CHURCH TO RECOMMIT TO THE CENTRALITY OF GOSPEL NONVIOLENCE

17 April 2016 – (www.paxchristi.net) – The following statement was affirmed by the participants of the Nonviolence and Just Peace gathering held in Rome, 11-13 April 2016. The gathering was co-convened by Pax Christi International, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, UISG/USG and many other international Catholic organisations. 

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As Christians committed to a more just and peaceful world we are called to take a clear stand for creative and active nonviolence and against all forms of violence. With this conviction, and in recognition of the Jubilee Year of Mercy declared by Pope Francis, people from many countries gathered at the Nonviolence and Just Peace Conference sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and Pax Christi International on April 11-13, 2016 in Rome.

Our assembly, people of God from Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Oceania included lay people, theologians, members of religious congregations, priests, and bishops. Many of us live in communities experiencing violence and oppression. All of us are practitioners of justice and peace. We are grateful for the message to our conference from Pope Francis: “your thoughts on revitalizing the tools of nonviolence, and of active nonviolence in particular, will be a needed and positive contribution”.

Looking at our world today

We live in a time of tremendous suffering, widespread trauma and fear linked to militarization, economic injustice, climate change, and a myriad of other specific forms of violence. In this context of normalized and systemic violence, those of us who stand in the Christian tradition are called to recognize the centrality of active nonviolence to the vision and message of Jesus; to the life and practice of the Catholic Church; and to our long-term vocation of healing and reconciling both people and the planet.

We rejoice in the rich concrete experiences of people engaged in work for peace around the world, many of whose stories we heard during this conference. Participants shared their experiences of courageous negotiations with armed actors in Uganda and Colombia; working to protect the Article 9, the peace clause in the Japanese Constitution; accompaniment in Palestine; and countrywide peace education in the Philippines. They illuminate the creativity and power of nonviolent practices in many different situations of potential or actual violent conflict. Recent academic research, in fact, has confirmed that nonviolent resistance strategies are twice as effective as violent ones.

The time has come for our Church to be a living witness and to invest far greater human and financial resources in promoting a spirituality and practice of active nonviolence and in forming and training our Catholic communities in effective nonviolent practices. In all of this, Jesus is our inspiration and model.

Jesus and nonviolence

In his own times, rife with structural violence, Jesus proclaimed a new, nonviolent order rooted in the unconditional love of God. Jesus called his disciples to love their enemies (Matthew 5: 44), which includes respecting the image of God in all persons; to offer no violent resistance to one who does evil (Matthew 5: 39); to become peacemakers; to forgive and repent; and to be abundantly merciful (Matthew 5-7). Jesus embodied nonviolence by actively resisting systemic dehumanization, as when he defied the Sabbath laws to heal the man with the withered hand (Mark 3: 1-6); when he confronted the powerful at the Temple and purified it (John 2: 13-22); when he peacefully but determinedly challenged the men accusing a woman of adultery (John 8: 1-11); when on the night before he died he asked Peter to put down his sword (Matthew 26: 52).

Neither passive nor weak, Jesus’ nonviolence was the power of love in action. In vision and deed, he is the revelation and embodiment of the Nonviolent God, a truth especially illuminated in the Cross and Resurrection. He calls us to develop the virtue of nonviolent peacemaking.

Clearly, the Word of God, the witness of Jesus, should never be used to justify violence, injustice or war. We confess that the people of God have betrayed this central message of the Gospel many times, participating in wars, persecution, oppression, exploitation, and discrimination.

We believe that there is no “just war”. Too often the “just war theory” has been used to endorse rather than prevent or limit war. Suggesting that a “just war” is possible also undermines the moral imperative to develop tools and capacities for nonviolent transformation of conflict.

We need a new framework that is consistent with Gospel nonviolence. A different path is clearly unfolding in recent Catholic social teaching. Pope John XXIII wrote that war is not a suitable way to restore rights; Pope Paul VI linked peace and development, and told the UN “no more war”; Pope John Paul II said that “war belongs to the tragic past, to history”; Pope Benedict XVI said that “loving the enemy is the nucleus of the Christian revolution”; and Pope Francis said “the true strength of the Christian is the power of truth and love, which leads to the renunciation of all violence. Faith and violence are incompatible”. He has also urged the “abolition of war”.

We propose that the Catholic Church develop and consider shifting to a Just Peace approach based on Gospel nonviolence. A Just Peace approach offers a vision and an ethic to build peace as well as to prevent, defuse, and to heal the damage of violent conflict. This ethic includes a commitment to human dignity and thriving relationships, with specific criteria, virtues, and practices to guide our actions. We recognize that peace requires justice and justice requires peacemaking.

Living Gospel Nonviolence and Just Peace

•In that spirit we commit ourselves to furthering Catholic understanding and practice of active nonviolence on the road to just peace. As would-be disciples of Jesus, challenged and inspired by stories of hope and courage in these days, we call on the Church we love to:

•continue developing Catholic social teaching on nonviolence. In particular, we call on Pope Francis to share with the world an encyclical on nonviolence and Just Peace;

•integrate Gospel nonviolence explicitly into the life, including the sacramental life, and work of the Church through dioceses, parishes, agencies, schools, universities, seminaries, religious orders, voluntary associations, and others;

•promote nonviolent practices and strategies (e.g., nonviolent resistance, restorative justice, trauma healing, unarmed civilian protection, conflict transformation, and peacebuilding strategies);

•initiate a global conversation on nonviolence within the Church, with people of other faiths, and with the larger world to respond to the monumental crises of our time with the vision and strategies of nonviolence and Just Peace;

•no longer use or teach “just war theory”; continue advocating for the abolition of war and nuclear weapons;

•lift up the prophetic voice of the church to challenge unjust world powers and to support and defend those nonviolent activists whose work for peace and justice put their lives at risk.

In every age, the Holy Spirit graces the Church with the wisdom to respond to the challenges of its time. In response to what is a global epidemic of violence, which Pope Francis has labeled a “world war in installments”, we are being called to invoke, pray over, teach and take decisive action. With our communities and organizations, we look forward to continue collaborating with the Holy See and the global Church to advance Gospel nonviolence.

http://www.paxchristi.net/news/appeal-catholic-church-recommit-centrality-gospel-nonviolence/5855#sthash.D6g5MTTd.aH9kbQ4T.dpbs

 

CALLED BY GOD TO SERVE IN KINDNESS AND CONQUERED BY FORGIVENESS

21 April 2016 – (By Patrick Lumami Mwanza) - The week from 10th to 16th of April 2016 was a great opportunity given to us for our six days annual retreat at the Comboni House in Juba. Many confreres who work in South Sudan province came from different missions to attend this week spiritual retreat. 

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COMBONI MISSIONARIES HOLD WORKSHOP ON EVANGELIZATION AND EDUCATION

15 April 2016 – (By Gregor Schmidt) - The Comboni Missionaries in South Sudan held their annual workshop in Juba from 5-8 April. Forty-six people, including religious, diocesan priests, catechists and other lay people who work in Catholic education institutions, attended this workshop.

Participants of workshop, Juba

This year participants were invited to look at how the Catholic Church is involved in evangelization and education, and also how the two aspects are interrelated in order to offer a holistic pastoral approach. The guiding topic was “the truth will make you free (John 8:32)”.

South Sudan is one of the least educated countries in the world. Statistics say that about 72% of the country’s population are illiterate. Women are far more in disadvantage in terms of education. The Church has always been committed to education, while engaged in evangelisation, and is making a good contribution to improve education at all levels in South Sudan.

 At this workshop different topics related to education were presented by invited guests who are experts in some specific areas. Some speakers focused on either education or evangelization while some others had a topic that touched both areas. 

In the field of education, participants were informed about the general status of education in South Sudan, focusing on some particular aspects such as the new curriculum that was launched in 2015, how the national ministry attempts to implement quality education. 

They also learned, from a study case, how quality education is being implemented despite limited resources in the area of Fangak County, in South Sudan’s Jonglei state. 

In the field of evangelization, participants had also an introduction about the general status of evangelization and its history in South Sudan. John Ashworth, one of the speakers, in his presentation underlined the unique ecumenical relationships with Protestant churches. 

South Sudan is the only country in the world where the Catholic Church is a member of the national Council of Churches and, in addition, is one of its founding members. 

Other relevant topics related to evangelisation were also covered: the importance of catechists and the use of the vernacular language in spreading the Gospel, the question as to what extent the Church should challenge or embrace the local cultures, as well as the question of how to transmit Christian values and attitudes in a more meaningful way. 

Two specific topics touched both areas of education and evangelisation. The first was presented Br. Bill Firman who reflected on how truth is searched for in religion and science. He pointed out that religion and science are not opponents. Instead, they are like partners performing a dance. Each one should inspire the other. 

Fr. Manny Ginete, in his turn, posed the question of how to educate and evangelize to be free. In the end, it is Jesus Christ who sets us free because He is the Truth. Thus, evangelization and education, used in the service of the Gospel, are tools that lead people to freedom. 

Eucharistic celebration at workshop, Juba

One cross-cutting topic was healing of trauma. Sr. Barbara Paleczny and Fr. Mario De Battista presented the implications and opportunities of this topic considering the fact that a large part of the South Sudanese population is actually traumatized, either by the previous wars and the current civil war or by daily violence perpetuated in the local cultures. 

Neither evangelization nor education can reach people who are traumatised and make a significant impact on them if they are not able to process and internalize what they are offered. 

Trauma healing opens the door so that people healed of trauma are able to communicate again and build trustful relationships. This is the beginning of a transformation process that brings about real change in the life of an individual and in society.  

The workshop gave attendants the opportunity to actively participate and offer feed-back to the presenters. Also, two Eucharistic celebrations were held and participants had the chance to entrust their work and South Sudan to the care of God. 

Participants evaluated the entire workshop as very positive activity and hope for a follow-up, which would include having another workshop for them to come together again. Now is the time to put into practice what they have heard and shared! 

Fr. Gregor Schmidt, MCCJ

CATHOLIC CHURCH IN JUBA TO HOLD A THREE DAYS PRAYER FOR PEACE IN SOUTH SUDAN

18 April 2016 – The head of the Catholic Archdiocese of Juba, Archbishop Paulino Lukudu Loro, has extended an open invitation to all faithful and People of God in the Archdiocese of Juba “to pray for a peaceful implementation of the agreement leading to a lasting peace in South Sudan”.

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