Never turn a blind eye on injustice, Pope Fracis tells clerics

By William Madouk

Pope Francis has tasked Catholic religious leaders never to be neutral but be courageous enough to stand and speak up against injustice and abuse of power by the authorities.

During morning mass on the second day of his ecumenical peace pilgrimage at Saint Theresa last Saturday, Pope Francis, 86, stated that the church should play a weighty role to end violence and raise their voices against bad governance in the African Continent.

While addressing Catholic bishops, priests, and nuns at Juba’s St. Theresa Cathedral, the Pope said pastors who intercede shouldn’t remain neutral before injustice and violence that caused pains.

“Brothers and sisters, we too are called to intercede for our people to raise our voices against the injustice and the abuses of power that oppress and use violence to suit their own ends amid the cloud of conflicts,” Pope said.

“If we want to be pastors who intercede, we cannot remain neutral before the pain caused by acts of injustice and violence. To violate the fundamental rights of any woman or man is an offence against Christ,” he continued.

Pope Francis metaphorically questioned the authenticity of the leadership that continue to have bloodshed and tears that are shed by the people of South Sudan due to the endless conflicts in the country under their watch.

“How can we exercise our ministry in this land, along the banks of river bathed in so much innocent blood, among the tear-stained faces of the people who entrusted us?” he wondered.

When the Pope was learnt from a nun at Saint Theresa Cathedral about how two of her fellow nuns were killed in an ambush in Juba in 2021, he challenged the clergy imitate Daniel Comboni and the two nuns who were murdered along Juba – Nimule highway.

He encourages them to be “courageous” and “generous” souls ready to die for Africa.

“Let us think of Saint Daniele Comboni. He used to say that a missionary must be ready to do anything for the sake of Christ and the gospel. We need courageous, generous souls ready to die for Africa,” he told the religious leaders.

The head of the Catholic Church made the same call to the parties to the peace agreement in South Sudan while addressing them on his arrival last Friday.  

He urged the leadership of the country to stop bloodshed and leave behind dark times of war while turning new a leaf for peace and reconciliation.

“No more bloodshed, no more conflicts, no more violence and accusations about who is responsible for the war. No more leaving your people athirst for peace,” the Pope Francis, who originally hails from Argentina, told the leaders including Salva Kiir and Riek Machar.

 “Those sons and daughters, and history itself, will remember if you work for the benefit of this people that you have been called to serve,” the Holy Father admonished the leaders.

In April 2019, His Holiness Pope Francis kissed the feet of South Sudan’s warring political leaders and asked them to remain in peace during a spiritual retreat to the Vatican.

President Kiir had since said the rare gesture of humility will not go in vain.

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