Fr. Paul Samasumo – Vatican City
As Pope Francis on Sunday, during the Angelus, prayed for peace in the Central African Republic following the massacre, at a refugee camp of more than 40 people including two priests, the Jesuits of Africa on Monday, issued a separate plea for peace in South Sudan. The appeal for peace and better security in South Sudan follows the horrific killing of a Kenyan Jesuit priest, Fr. Victor-Luke Odhiambo gunned down by assailants who stormed the Jesuit community in South Sudan, last week.
The slain priest was Principal of Mazzolari Teachers’ College in Cueibet, South Sudan.
In a statement made available to the Africa Service of Vatican Radio, the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar said it would like to see justice, reconciliation, peace and complete disarmament in South Sudan. They equally call upon the African Union, regional governments and the international community to support the implementation of the peace agreement reached on 12 September 2018 between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy president, Riek Machar.
The Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar condolences to family
“We, the Jesuits of Africa and Madagascar, strongly condemn the horrific murder of Fr. Victor-Luke Odhiambo, a Jesuit priest from Kenya, on 15 November 2018, in Cueibet, South Sudan. Our hearts go out to the family of Fr. Odhiambo, praying that the Risen Christ consoles them,” reads a statement co-signed by Fr. Joseph Afulo the Jesuit Provincial of the Eastern Africa Province and Fr. Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator, President of the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar.
A call for comprehensive disarmament in South Sudan
In the statement, the two Jesuits have made a passionate plea for immediate and comprehensive disarmament in South Sudan and condemned “the proliferation of illegal small arms and light weapons in South Sudan, largely supplied by Western and Asian countries, and call for an immediate end to the supply of these arms. We encourage all anti-illegal arms advocates, civil society, religious groups, governments and private individuals to join hands in calling for an end to the sale of arms to illegal groups in South Sudan,” the statement reads in part.
Increase peacekeeping and development support to South Sudan
The Jesuits further appeal to the international community to increase peacekeeping support and development aid to South Sudan in order to promote economic recovery.
Renewal of commitment to South Sudan
Notwithstanding the death of Fr. Odhiambo, the Jesuits have recommitted themselves to the mission in South Sudan.
“In fidelity to our mission of reconciliation and justice, we renew our commitment to continue collaboration with the local church and all people of goodwill for the advancement of the reign of God through our ministries and works in South Sudan,” they said.
Fr. Odhiambo described as a dedicated and courageous priest was the first Kenyan Jesuit priest. He was scheduled to be buried on Monday in Cueibet, on the grounds of the College.