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Pope urges South Sudan’s clergy to speak out against abuse of power

Pope Francis has urged the bishops, priests, deacons, consecrated persons, seminarians and lay pastoral workers to speak out against injustice and abuse of power in the country.

The Pontiff said these remarks on Saturday during meeting with hundreds of church leaders at St.Thereza Cathedral in Juba.

“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,” he 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,” added Pope Francis.

He called on the church leaders to provide support to the needy and suffering people through resources like money, cleverness or power.

“Our hands were anointed with spirit not only for the sacred rites, but also to encourage, help and accompany people to leave behind whatever paralyzes them, keep them closed in on themselves and makes them fearful,” said Pope Francis.

He said that pastors must work together, and shun chasing after religious or social prestige.

 “Bishops and priests, priests and deacons, pastors and seminarians, ordained ministers and religious – always show respect for the marvelous specificity of religious life.  Let us make every effort to banish the temptation to individualism, to partisan interests,” he said.

 “How sad it is when the church’s pastors are incapable of communion, when they fail to cooperate, and even ignore one another,” he asked.

The Pope reminded church leaders of the importance of cultivating mutual respect, closeness and practical cooperation.

He said that if the church leaders fail to build mutual respect, then they cannot preach it to their flock.

The Pope recalled Saint Daniele Comboni, and the great work of evangelization he carried out in South Sudan with his missionary brothers, and how he used to say “that a missionary must be ready to do anything for the sake of Christ and the Gospel.” 

“We need courageous and generous souls ready to suffer and die for Africa,” said Pope Francis.

“Our first duty is not to be a Church that is perfectly organized, but a Church that in the name of Christ, stands in the midst of people’s troubled lives, a church that is willing to dirty its hands for people,” he disclosed.

Pope Francis started his fifth visit to Africa on February 2nd in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo.

He arrived in South Sudan on February 3rd   accompanied by Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, Iain Greenshields.

The Pontiff completed his itinerary on Sunday with Holy mass.

The trip is Francis’s 40th abroad since he was elected the head of the Catholic Church in 2013.

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