2014-03-23 Vatican Radio(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday appealed for an end to violence in South Sudan, to ensure access to humanitarian aid and for the promotion of peace.
In a letter addressed to Archbishop Paulino Lukudu Loro of Juba, read at Mass on Sunday morning by Cardinal Peter Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, who is in South Sudan on a mission to pray with the people there, the Pope entreated all parties involved to “tirelessly seek peaceful solutions, enabling the common good to prevail over particular interests”.
The letter, which carried the signature of Cardinal Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin, decried “the fighting that has cost the lives of many innocent people and caused deep wounds and divisions which will take many years to heal”.
It continued: “We see daily how armed conflicts are generating poverty, hunger, sickness and death, and we cannot remain indifferent to these realities. We are likewise deeply grieved by the dramatic situation of those many men, women and children forced to flee their native lands and live in camps as refugees or exiles, in conditions unworthy of their human dignity and in which they are no longer seen as persons but as nameless statistics”.
It quotes the Letter of Pope Francis to H.E. Mr. Vladimir Putin, President of the Russia Federation, on the occasion of the G20 St Petersburg Summit in September 2013 which says “We know that without peace there can be no development”.
“For this reason the Holy Father addresses a pressing appeal to all parties involved, so that, with the support of the international community, they may put an end to hostilities and acts of violence, ensure access to humanitarian aid for the needy, and tirelessly seek peaceful solutions, enabling the common good to prevail over particular interests”.
The letter continues saying that Pope Francis “urges us to promote the culture of encounter. This means first and foremost, rejecting self-centeredness and insistence on one’s own rights without concern for the rights of others. It means seeing in others, not competitors or, worse still, enemies, but rather brothers and sisters to be accepted and with whom to work. The commitment to create a climate of constructive social creativity must prevail over selfishness and the thirst for power, with a clear recognition that human beings, with their legitimate moral, ethical, and social aspirations, are always prior to the State and the various powers which might in some way seek to subject them”.
“These weeks of Lent” – the letter says – “help us to follow Jesus Christ, present in his Church, the ultimate and definitive foundation of our lives and the certainty of our hope. Only when we recognize the presence of Christ are we able to face the future with confidence, without fear and illusion. This liturgical season is a privileged moment for undertaking a path of purification and conversion of mind and heart. Only in this way will we be able to uproot all the false and seductive promises of happiness which enslave us. It is imperative for our consciences to be converted to justice, fraternity and sharing! In imitation of our Master, we Christians are called to open our eyes to the needs of our brothers and sisters, and to assume our responsibility to work concretely towards alleviating them (cf. Lenten message of our Holy Father Francis 2014).
The letter concludes underlining the fact that while condemning every act of violence, the Catholic Church “will remain present and work generously in providing every possible form of assistance, especially for the sake of reestablishing a climate of dialogue, reconciliation and peace among all the members of society”.