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My installation as cardinal clears stereotype on South Sudan-Ameyu

By Bida Elly David and Charles K Mark

First Cardinal of South Sudan, His Eminence Dr. Stephen Ameyu Martin Mulla calls for cooperation and cautions against misconduct.

Speaking on Saturday, while talking to journalists during the consistory at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Cardinal Ameyu said his consecration clears global stereotype on South Sudan.

But he urges citizens to seek collective divine forgiveness.

“We have to conduct our lives in a good way, and God, who has called us to this vocation of being Christians, can also bless us to have appropriate lives,” he said.

Ameyu views that his appointment as the first cardinal for South Sudan has cleared global skepticism that citizens of the young East African nation do not believe in God.

“This is an eye-opener since people have come to know that we believe in God. I hope this cooperation continues to enlighten us as a people from South Sudan,” Cardinal Ameyo said.

He commended the government and the entire congregation who turned up to witness his installation into cardinal in Rome.

“I thank all Christians who prayed for us, the 21 new cardinals. I wish that all of them go to encourage their own people in their own dioceses,” he lauded.

Rev. Ameyu noted with concern that it is their role as cardinals and bishops to bestow citizens, especially Christians, with spiritual courage to restore peace.

“It is our role as the new cardinals to encourage people in their own difficulties that alone can help us to have hope in God and in the life to come,” Ameyu added.

Praises, appreciations and gratitude

Elevation of Archbishop Ameyu to a cardinal ignites surprises and excitement, adding to blessings to South Sudan, a land that has survived a protracted suffering since slave trade era.

John Laku Erneyo, a family coordinator, who is among the delegation that travelled to Rome, is one of the natives viewing 2023 as a year of blessings to South Sudan.

“This year, the papal visit us, our Bright Stars basketball team n participation of in World cup and now we have received our first cardinal” Laku recounts.

“South Sudan had a very big blessing. The Pope brought his blessings; we had very good results from the national basketball team, and now it is the greatest gift to receive a Cardinal,” he expressed.

To many as Laku, Cardinal Ameyu is a manifestation of the growth of Catholic faith in the Republic of South Sudan.

Speaker of South Sudan’s Transitional National Assembly, Rt. Hon. Jemma Nunu Kumb at St. Peter’s Square in Rome

Speaker of the national Assembly, Jemma Nunu Kumba, representing the government in Vatican, commended the papal initiative to install Archbishop Ameyu as the first Cardinal.

Nunu said the first objective of the government during the liberation struggle was to guarantee freedom of worship to all citizens across the country.

Nunu noted that the installation of Cardinal Ameyu would be a symbol of change in the broken South Sudan.

“We are now co-existing Christians, non-Christians, and Muslims in our country, and we need to live as an example, a symbol of peaceful co-existence of inter-faith solidarity,” Nunu said.

However, speaker Jemma underscored that religion is a supernatural entity distinct from the issues of the state.

“Here we also have Muslim representatives who came to attend the installation of the Cardinal; this shows that we are living as brothers and sisters regardless of our religious affiliations,” she noted.

Pope Francis, in consistory, on Saturday, officially elevated and installed Bishop Stephen Ameyu Martin Mulla, as the eminent Cardinal of the Catholic Church in South Sudan.

Photo: Courtesy |H.E Emmanuel Adil Anthony | Governor, Central Equatoria State (CES).

Central Equatoria State (CES) governor, Emmanuel Adil Anthony joins other citizens in congratulating Catholic Church, the Christian Community, and South Sudan at large for getting its first Cardinal.

“It is with great humility that I hereby extend warm-hearted congratulations to His Eminence Dr. Stephen Ameyu Martin Mulla for his deserved elevation to the rank of Cardinal by Pope Francis,” Adil said.

The Governor conveyed his congratulatory message to Dr. Stephen for what he termed a momentous occasion as the second South Sudanese to attain the very distinguished position after Cardinal Gabriel Zubeir Wako.

“This latest elevation of one of our very own outstanding leaders within the Catholic hierarchy has brought a lot of pleasure and blessings to our nascent nation,” the governor expressed.

He said the promotion came at a very crucial time when the country’s leadership is trying to fulfil the pending tasks of R-ARCISS ahead of the looming elections.

“On the same note, I extend my profound gratitude to His Holiness Pope Francis for choosing him for this prominent position in the Catholic Church,” Adil added.

The CES governor wished that the new Cardinal for South Sudan assume his responsibilities within the Catholic Church and beyond in good health and success.

Rev. Clement Lujang Joseph, from Central Equatoria State Internal Province, of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan, expressed gratitude that the country continues to make remarkable history.

“It is one of the privileges, one of the things that we are happy for, because when our leaders are also considered, then that one will be very grateful,” Lujang expressed.

The ECSS cleric noted that it is a good gesture that the world begins to see the potential of African leaders, thus considering them for influential positions.

“But when they are now able to ordain our priests and our bishops to the cardinals, then that is good. We even expect more,” Rev. Lujang said.

He underscored that for the Church in South Sudan to grow and develop spiritually, such major promotions are timely and that such leaders can use their influence and positions to unite the people and drive them into development.

“Our people will be able to work together with him to collaborate and then put hands together so that our church in Africa and in South Sudan can also be able to develop in terms of spreading the word of God and then also in terms of physical development,” he concluded.

Meanwhile, Community Empowerment for Progress, a civil society organisation in the country appreciates the first cardinal, saying it’s both a blessing and appreciation to Catholic faith.

CEPO’s boss Desmond Yakani reiterated that the high position is hinged on supporting human growth and development in a peaceful and stable society.

Yakani recollects since South Sudan is undergoing a moment of test, the task of bringing peace in the country rests with religious leaders because the political leaders have a higher deficit in trust and confidence to work together.

“We hope that now the faith leaders will play a proactive role in nurturing trust and confidence among our political leaders for the realization of peace and stability,” CEPO’s boss appealed.

However, Yakani believes the current religious leaders have limited influence to holding political leaders accountable, compared to their predecessors.

He argues faith-based leaders to exert pressure on political leaders and elites for peace and stability to be realized in the country.

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