Church Leaders consult on the South Sudan Peace Process on April 14-15

Church leaders in South Sudan unite to urge peace now


GENEVA, Switzerland, April 17, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/
— The World Council of Churches (WCC) in collaboration with the South
Sudan Council of Churches (SSCC) convened church leaders for a special
consultation on the South Sudan Peace Process, 14-15 April in Addis
Ababa, Ethiopia.

Twenty church leaders and representatives from South Sudan and
Ethiopia met along with related agencies for two days to reflect on
the tragic situation of conflict in South Sudan, now in its sixteenth
month, the recent collapse of peace talks among the parties to the
conflict, and fresh ways forward.

“The Church now undertakes to begin a peace process to address the
mistrust of the parties and to bring them together to discuss the
needs of the people and the future of the nation in a forum which is
less polarized and less politically charged than other processes,”
promised the church leaders in their communiqué, issued in Addis Ababa
on 15 April.

Taking note of the Easter season’s promise of new life and
resurrection, the statement chided the conflicting parties for a
senseless conflict and pledged a broad-reaching advocacy effort with
all segments of society in South Sudan.

“The people of South Sudan continue to suffer,” the statement
continued. “The trauma of decades of conflict is being reinforced
rather than healed. The rule of law is largely absent. In many parts
of the country there is virtual anarchy, with no effective government.
The culture of revenge reigns supreme, and the longer the war
continues, the more deeply this culture will be ingrained. There is
insecurity and fear; people panic at the smallest alarm. Tribalism is
on the increase. Fighting and forced recruitment continue.”

“It’s urgent to bring just peace to South Sudan. People are
suffering,” said the WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit in
his opening remarks to consultation participants, noting, “the church
leaders are playing a significant role to bring peace to South Sudan.”

Tveit continued, “The WCC has accompanied the churches in South Sudan
for more than 40 years. We are gathered here to reflect on how God
could lead your people to justice and peace. We have a very solid role
to play as peace makers. The churches are representing the people and
the civil society and could unite the country. ”

Rev. Peter Gai Lual, head of the Presbyterian Church from Malakal and
chair of the South Sudan Council of Churches (SSCC), said; “We, the
church leaders, have consistently stated that there is no moral
justification and no excuse to continue fighting and killing. The
fighting must stop immediately, and only then can these political
matters be discussed in a meaningful way. We are ambassadors for peace
and mandated by God to reconcile.”

“Peace must be sustained and it must be peace with justice. We are
coming as people of faith and carrying a big hope to the world. We are
pilgrims and we have to work, walk and pray together, ” said Dr Agnes
Abuom, moderator of the WCC Central Committee.

The delegations were welcomed and hosted by Patriarch Abune Matthias
of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, Archbishop of Axum and
Echegue of the See of St Teklehaimanot; Abune Berhaneyesus, Cardinal
of the Ethiopian Catholic Church; and Rev. Dr Wakseyoum Idosa,
President of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekaneyesus. The meeting
was also addressed by Ambassador Seyoum Mesfin, chair of the East
African Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) special
envoys. The South Sudanese delegation also met with Ethiopian Prime
Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.

The WCC will call for a special day of prayer for the South Sudan
Peace Process in May.