On the day Pope Francis designated for global prayers for peace in South Sudan and Congo, Catholic bishops in South Sudan said their leaders needed help to discern how to “beat their swords into plowshares.”
While reiterating that the killings must stop, the bishops warned that the leaders did not know how to make peace, were confused, traumatised and feared peace.
“They are military people who see the world through the lens of violence,” said their 23rd February statement.
The current war broke out in December 2013 as a dispute between President Salva Kiir and Deputy President Riek Machar. Within months it took on an ethnic dimension and spread across the country.
Now, agencies say nearly 7 million people are internally displaced inside the country and need urgent humanitarian aid. The war has forced out more than 2 million as refugees. The parties to the conflict have been holding talks in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
But the bishops stress that the leaders need spiritual and moral courage to make peace and hold a vision of a future with peace. Many of them are traumatised by the prolonged war, warn the bishops, just like many of the people of South Sudan.
“Trauma can paralyse people, make them behave inappropriately, erode their morale and morals, and lead to self-pity and denial,” they said.
Picture: A wounded soldier from the Congolese armed forces is carried on 19th February near the town of Kimbau, Congo. (CNS photo/Goran Tomasevic, Reuters).