AMECEA Bishops, Church in Sudan and South Sudan and Government Condemn Attack of Bishop-Elect, Carlassare

by Amref Health Africa

 Sr. Jecinter Antoinette Okoth, FSSA

Upon receiving sad news about the shooting of Bishop-elect of South Sudan’s Rumbek Diocese Monsignor Christian Carlassare
which happened around midnight of Monday, April 26, leaders from the Church and government sectors have denounced the evil act seeking justice and for the authorities to act according to the law.

“Ours as the Church is to strongly seek and demand justice and pray for those who do us harm,” bishops in Sudan and South Sudan said in their collective statement issued Monday, April 26 after the attack of Monsignor adding that, “we stand and pray for deep conversion of the hearts of the offenders.”

The bishops under their national body Sudan and South Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SSCBC) have urged the South Sudan government “to take a serious step to apprehend the perpetrators into book and have their way to justice.”

In the collective communique signed by SSCBC President Bishop Tombe Trille Kuku of El Obeid Diocese, Sudan, the Prelates have warned against brushing out shameful crimes committed on innocents “with the terms of unidentified gunmen” cautioning that such “regular statements uttered by leaders will never halt the escalation of crimes in the country.”

The bishops lament that such evil acts are an attempt to halt the efforts made by the church in South Sudan and the Holy See in seeking Shepherds for a number of vacant Sees, especially when one has been identified “after ten years.”

According to sources, gunmen who shot Msg. Carlassare stormed the residence of the Catholic Diocese of Rumbek and shot the Bishop-elect on both legs after they knocked on his room and shot his door several times until it opened.

Speaking on behalf of the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA) bishops, the chairman Bishop Charles Kasonde condemned the attack of Msg. Carlassare terming it “unfortunate” being that he was appointed just recently to Shepherd the Diocese of Rumbek that has been vacant for almost ten years.

He asked that those connected to the shooting “be brought to justice and that the good Lord who seeks reconciliation of all humanity may intervene for the conversion of their hearts.”

Bishop Kasonde of Zambia’s Solwezi Diocese noted in the statement dated Wednesday, April, 28, that AMECEA bishops extend their gratitude to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF) and all who quickly came to the aid of Msg. Carlassare to ensure “he reached a place for specialized treatment in a timely manner.’

“The reprehensible act of violence meted on him (Msg. Carlassare) is unacceptable and it must stop,” President of the Republic of South Sudan His Excellency Salva Kiir Mayardit warned in his statement dated Monday, April 26, calling on all South Sudanese to “condemn the criminals who carried out this heinous crime in strongest terms possible.”

The President has urged authorities in the Lake State of South Sudan “to carry out an expeditious investigation that will lead to lawful apprehension and persecution of criminals who perpetrated this crime.”

He has further disclosed that the authorities of Lake State will stand by Msg. Carlassare a member of the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus (MCCJ) whose episcopal appointment for the Rumbek diocese was made by Pope Francis on Monday, March 8.

The leaders “will not allow the action of few criminals to affect the plans of ecclesiastical authority,” President Salva Kiir warned in reference to the underway plans for episcopal ordination and installation that had already been announced to take place on Pentecost Sunday, May 23, and prayed for God’s intervention to strengthen Msg’s faith and “be back to his flock with renewed determination to serve the faithful in the diocese” of Rumbek.

On their part, the South Sudan Human Rights Commission noted in their statement that the information already gathered reveals that Bishop-elect was the “sole target of the attack.”

The Commission has “condemned the barbaric act” urging both the State and the national government to institute a committee to conduct a “thorough investigation with the aim of holding the culprits accountable.”

They have further urged the faithful of Rumbek Diocese to remain calm promising to monitor the progress and do fact-finding as they keep the general public abreast.

Since the incident occurred, Bishop-elect had been flown to Nairobi, Kenya where he is getting treatment and some suspects connected to his shooting has been arrested.

On behalf of South Sudan’s Catholic Diocese of Tombura-Yambio, Bishop Barani Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala said in a video clip shared with AMECEA online that the “Attack is not only on the personal life of the bishop-elect but also a direct attack on people of the Catholic Diocese of Rumbek, a direct attack on the Mother Church in South Sudan and a direct attack on the Catholic Church as an institution and the Republic of South Sudan.”

“We strongly condemn this act of malice and barbarism and ask all of us to hold on together during this difficult moment of challenge as we uphold those Christian values among them love, solidarity, care, unity, forgiveness, and patience,” the Local Ordinary of Tombura-Yambio said adding that, “I also condemn this behaviour. It is not a civilized way to responding towards anything, this is cowardice to attack an innocent person who has no bullet, no gun, no knife, no weapon at all to defend himself; yet you assault him with a gun; it is wrong in all its entirety.”

He further promised all the Missionaries serving in South Sudan that people love them and that “What has happened is not something we have to call an attack on all the Missionaries since the Church in South Sudan has been born and nurtured due to the sacrifices of many the Missionary brothers and sisters.”

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