International affairs, peace
and human security
Regional concerns - Sudan - Important documents
"MAY THEY ALL BE ONE"
May they all be one, just as, Father, you are in me and I am in you, so that they may also be in us, so that the world may believe it was you who sent me. (John 17.21)
To the faithful Christians and all who share a common concern for peace in Sudan.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, from us, your Pastors and Spiritual Leaders, the Church Leaders of the Church in Sudan, meeting together through the Holy Spirit as members of the one body of Christ.
Following the historic signing in January of a comprehensive peace agreement between the Government of Sudan and the SPLM/A, we have been meeting for a week as Sudanese Church Leaders in Mukono, Uganda, under the theme Building Peace in Sudan through United Church Leadership. We give thanks to God and congratulate the two parties, the Government of Sudan and the SPLM/A, the IGAD and its supporting partners and all involved in achieving the peace agreement. We thank God for this opportunity to build a new Sudan free from the suffering which war has for so long inflicted on the Sudanese people.
As their spiritual shepherds, we have known the suffering experienced by our people on the ground. We know the disunity and alienation which war has created. We see the continued suffering in Darfur and in areas of Eastern Sudan as well as the conflicts which have proliferated among armed groups in Upper Nile and Bahr el Ghazal. We continue to hear of the suffering caused to local communities in Southern Sudan and Northern Uganda by the activities of the LRA. We urge the warring parties to end hostilities and seek a peaceful solution. We see the present time as a unique opportunity to mobilise the Sudanese people to overcome disunity and alienation and work together to build a real peace on the ground worthy of the title of a new Sudan.
Peace is God’s gift to his people. As Jesus said to his disciples, “My peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you, not as the world gives do I give to you. (John 14.27) We have been entrusted with this gift and heavy responsibility now falls on us all to protect it. If peace is to be sustained, we need to prepare to receive it.
The suffering of the past challenges us to examine the root causes of conflict. The dawn of peace offers a once-in-a-generation opportunity to address important issues within wider Sudanese society. We need to look at the roots of the war in bitterness and injustice and learn from these so as to avoid repeating them and risking a return to conflict. We reject a resort to violence and call on all people to promote peaceful co-existence and to resolve problems through peaceful means using traditional and other mechanisms. Our faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ gives us confidence that we are not condemned to repeat the past – the way to a new future is presented before us. To enter this new future we need to learn from the lessons of the past and define together the kind of future we want for our nation.
We welcome the Constitutional process as a vehicle for expressing the aspirations of the Sudanese people. We affirm the values of freedom, democracy and the rule of law and encourage all citizens to be involved in articulating the future values and character of our country. To this end, we propose civil society actors be included in the process, including the Church, for constitutional discussions at national and state level and in particular for the Constitutions of South Sudan, Nuba Mountains, Southern Blue Nile and Abyei. We also encourage church representation in other commissions, legislative bodies and the judiciary, encouraging Christians to work in government and the private sector to exert influence for good.
As children of God, created in his image, all people are equal in the sight of God. We therefore reject discrimination and partiality on the basis of ethnicity. We value the positive aspects of our Sudanese tribal identities but reject the forms of tribalism which bring division and conflict among our people. As followers of Jesus Christ we have a mandate to overcome divisions between tribes and ethnicities. We recognise our responsibilities as Church leaders to transcend such divisions and the Church’s important place in encouraging wider Sudanese society to value and respect ethnicities different from their own. We also call upon the Government of Sudan and the SPLM/A to value our unity in our diversity and to treat all citizens equally, protecting them and their rights against discrimination and injustice.
As the wise man who brings out from his treasure something old and something new, we affirm the positive values within our traditional cultures. While our cultures have undergone serious harm during the years of war, we are also alert to the greater challenges these may face in the post-conflict period. We affirm our traditional values of respect for life and care for the old and the needy, of hospitality and the extended family, our love for the land, our community life and work, respect for elders and traditional marriage procedures as well as our languages, oral tradition, songs and dances. We urge the safeguarding of community structures such as the chief tribunal system and encourage forms of education which value and protect our cultures from new dangers of cultural violence.
As our country emerges from a culture of war towards a culture of peace, we urge vigilance against potential vices such as corruption and nepotism which undermine governance and harmony in society. We reject these as contrary to the core values of our people. Instead we encourage elements which serve to build up peace such as equality and mutual respect, equal opportunity, transparency and accountability. These serve to build up the trust so needed within our communities and institutions.
Just as God sees justice done for the orphan and the widow, and loves the stranger and gives him food and clothing (Deuteronomy 10.18), we urge all groups to work together as a priority to address poverty and injustice in our land. We call for a fair distribution of resources and for special consideration to be given to the needs of marginalised areas, as well as ethical conduct codes and provision for reparations from private sector companies. Such attention we see as essential to achieving peace and avoiding a return to war. We also call upon all communities to be alert to the dehumanising effect of a culture of dependency. We need to help our brothers and sisters to recover a sense of trust in themselves and trust in God their creator and to nurture a spirit of stewardship of natural resources and of self-reliance. We should teach a man to catch a fish, not just give him a fish and leave him without the means to recover his self-respect.
Already aware of post-war challenges, such as the needs of returnees / internally displaced persons(IDPs) and the spread of HIV/AIDS, we commit ourselves as Church Leaders to a continued prophetic role within our society and to empowering local leadership to do likewise. We will pursue constructive ways to co-operate with civil society groups and government in achieving common objectives towards peace and reconciliation while maintaining the critical distance necessary to speak with an independent voice.
We have been painfully aware that the disunity and alienation present within Sudanese society has also been conspicuous within the Church. We sincerely regret the divisions which have entered our churches and which have created disunity within our Church Councils. For more than forty years, the Sudan Council of Churches has been a highly-valued expression of the unity and ecumenical co-operation existing between the churches in Sudan. Aware of the vital role this unity has played, we, as Church Leaders, affirm our renewed collective commitment as churches in Sudan. We also affirm the decision taken in the light of the peace agreement to merge the SCC and NSCC to form a single strong Church Council for Sudan. To this end we are recommending the creation of an Interim Committee to supervise the process of the merger.
Our prayer is as Jesus prayed “May they all be one, so that the world may believe it was you who sent me.” (John 17.21). We commit ourselves to build up the unity of our churches, through opportunities to meet one another and develop mutual trust and understanding, through approaching differences in a spirit of Christian fellowship and respect, through ecumenical prayers and gatherings and by a willingness “to go the extra mile” for the sake of the unity of the Body of Christ.
United we stand, divided we fall. We also see the unity of our people as vital for the sustaining of peace in Sudan. For too long, policies of divide and rule have caused deep divisions within our communities. Now is the time for us to reach out to our brothers and sisters in a spirit of love and generosity. Unity across religious difference will also play an important part in creating harmony in society. We therefore encourage respect of a person’s religious faith and propose inter-faith workshops to be organised bringing together both Christians and Muslims.
Unity and sustainable peace cannot be achieved without serious efforts towards reconciliation and healing in Sudan. Genuine reconciliation involves people who have been alienated from each other by conflict and war coming together to rebuild community again. We warn against superficial processes which fail to address past wrongs and leave the way open for these wounds to deepen and for new conflict to break out. The past needs to be addressed but in such a way that the truth may set us free and not lead to greater division and resentment. To do so we need to tell the truth in a right way, starting by addressing ourselves, telling the truth in love, with humility and respect. We recognise that healing is helped by sincere expressions of regret for injuries done, by apology and request for forgiveness, by a commitment not to repeat past mistakes and a readiness to repair the damage. We therefore call for the establishment of an appropriate mechanism for reconciliation such as a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to deal with reconciliation at national level to address past wounds in such a spirit. We also urge that in each town and village, religious and community leaders should meet together to study the best ways to bring peace and reconciliation in their communities.
We affirm the special role of the Church in Sudan in working for the genuine reconciliation necessary for sustainable peace. We challenge ourselves and our churches to present a true and clear Gospel message of peace and reconciliation and to demonstrate this in our lives. As Christians, we declare to all our people that we are to forgive one another and seek forgiveness ourselves. We are to humble ourselves so that God can heal the wounds within us. Blessed are the peacemakers (Matthew 5.9). May the peace of the Lord be with you. Now is the time for us to plant the seeds of peace. Let us pray God to give us the Spirit of peace so that a good harvest may come from the seeds planted by peacemakers.
Most Revd Paolino Lukudu Loro
Most Revd Dr Joseph Marona
Revd John Kang
Revd James Par Tap
Fr Bishay Alantony
Revd Hani Khamis
Revd Mahjoub Kacho
Revd Andrew Wawa
Revd Simon K.Pal
Revd Musa Kodi
Fr Mark Kumbonyaki