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Sudanese Church Leader urges to support peace, fight corruption

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Dec 29, 2006 (KHARTOUM) — The leader of Sudan’s Roman Catholics urged Sudanese to strengthen peace implementation saying that war still waging in spite of the signing of many deals. He also called to fight corruption because it is” more harmful than the armed rebellion”.

Cardinal Gabriel Zubeir Wako, archbishop of Khartoum, in his Christmas massage harshly criticized peace implementation in the country, focusing his speech on the continuing fighting in the different parts of the Sudan and the emerging corruption.

Cardinal Wako said that Sudan “has become the land that has signed several Peace Agreements these last years. Unfortunately we have translated the agreements into agreements to “peacefully” continue war and prepare for war. Human life has become a very cheap commodity that can be disposed of at the whim of the powerful, the rich and the violent”

“We silently witness the indiscriminate and uncontrolled distribution of deadly arms into the hands of undisciplined persons. We hear, growingly without concern, news of massacres, assassinations, rapes, and other crimes committed against innocent, poor, and weak civilians. Why should all these and many others continue to happen in time of peace?” he further added.

Wako, whom Pope John Paul II installed as a cardinal only in October 2003, also denounced the growing corruption saying that empires of wealth have been built by corrupt people in total impunity.

“Several persons have built up empires of wealth and power and even armies. Corruption and the mis-appropriation of public funds and land at the expense of the poor, the weak, and the nation at large are wide spread to the point that anyone can practice them with impunity and even with pride.”

“Let us eliminate corruption, which is more harmful to the nation than armed rebellion because it destroys the conscience of the very people in whom the citizens have placed their trust and from whom they expect better services.” He urged.

The Archbishop of Khartoum recently told the German-based Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need that Millions of dollars are being handed over to a corrupt government instead of being given to the Church to alleviate the suffering of the people of Sudan.

He launched an ecumenical appeal to all the Sudanese to consolidate peace and to work together for the welfare of the nation.

“I appeal this Christmas and urge all of us: men and women, Christians and Muslims, Northerners, Southerners, Westerners, and Easterners, to join hands – hands attached to persons with conscience and good will, - to consolidate the peace or the various Peace Agreements, which have been signed in our country.”

(ST)

Following is the full text of CHRISTMAS MESSAGE – 2006 by Cardinal Gabriel Zubeir Wako, archbishop of Khartoum.

CHRISTMAS MESSAGE - 2006

(Gabriel Cardinal Zubeir Wako)

“I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” (Lk. 2: 10-11).

God sent the angels to announce the birth of the Savior as “news of great joy – for the whole people.” It is joy that has to spread by word of mouth and action. This makes Christmas a day of joy, of great joy, of universal joy. It is joy that must be shared. It cannot be reserved for a special group of people or in any way monopolized.

This feast of joy is God’s initiative of love. But it has to be a feast with God at the center. For, “A Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” This Savior, the Christ, is the Word about whom St. John writes: “In the beginning was the Word: the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. Through him all things came into being.” (Jn. 1:1-3). – “The Word became flesh, he lived among us.” (Jn. 1:14). Christmas is the birthday of that Word who became flesh to live among us. We call him “Jesus Christ”. He became flesh not for exhibition, but that through him we might have life. This life acquires a new and wonderful dimension for those who accept and believe in Him. It is the life of God in us. For we receive the power to become children of God. (cf. Jn. 1:12)

It is difficult to imagine the immense blessings God has prepared and made available to us and through us to the whole people. The greatest of them is that “God-is-with-us” sharing our life and giving us his own life because of his union with us. That union lifts us to the dignity of becoming really and truly God’s children. - With this message I invite you to think deeply of the meaning of the blessings I have mentioned. They touch our very lives and identity. They should transform our lives accordingly. They should lead us all to go down to the root cause and source of these blessings: the Love of God towards us, living in us and working in us. May Christmas be the birthday of God’s love in us. May it urge us to announce the good news that God’s love born in us, has become salvation and joy for the whole people. We must therefore express that love in words and deeds.

There is no party or ethnic God. There is only one God, the Creator of us all and the Father to us all who loves us all without reservations and without discrimination. As his children we are called to reflect this truth by a way of life that speaks: “love”. Love is the treasure of our family, the family of God, and of all the members of that family. Indeed “love” is the only news that brings peace, restores justice, preserves harmony, develops solidarity, and brings good, and only good, to all the people, because it is good news about God who is Love, and us who are his children created by him to his own image and likeness.

The Angels sang of God’s glory in the highest and of peace on earth to men of good will. It is so sad that we shall be singing with the angels but in a land that knows no peace and which as a consequence should not claim to praise God. Our country has become the land that has signed several Peace Agreements these last years. Unfortunately we have translated the agreements into agreements to “peacefully” continue war and prepare for war. Human life has become a very cheap commodity that can be disposed of at the whim of the powerful, the rich and the violent. Several persons have built up empires of wealth and power and even armies. Corruption and the mis-appropriation of public funds and land at the expense of the poor, the weak, and the nation at large are wide spread to the point that anyone can practice them with impunity and even with pride. We silently witness the indiscriminate and uncontrolled distribution of deadly arms into the hands of undisciplined persons. We hear, growingly without concern, news of massacres, assassinations, rapes, and other crimes committed against innocent, poor, and weak civilians. Why should all these and many others continue to happen in time of peace?

Without love there can be no peace. Without love there can be no justice. Without love there can be no respect for persons. For this reason I appeal this Christmas and urge all of us: men and women, Christians and Muslims, Northerners, Southerners, Westerners, and Easterners, to join hands – hands attached to persons with conscience and good will, - to consolidate the peace or the various Peace Agreements, which have been signed in our country. Let us eliminate arms. There is absolutely no justification for civilians to be allowed to possess and use arms that by law belong to the disciplined armed forces. Peace talks regarding power and wealth sharing are meaningless. Peace talks should have only one goal: “Let us lay down our arms. Let us stop killing one another like animals. Let us offer the weak and the poor the hope and chance to live. Let us stop impoverishing our country by wanton destruction of property and public utilities. Let us use the money that we waste in killing and destroying to give life and make life more livable. Let us build our country together into a land for each and every citizen.” It is really time for us to curb the tendency of creating enemies and enmities.

Let the rich and powerful people know that they have nothing to fear from the poor and the weak. It is time for those who have power or influence in the governance of our country to realize that their principal task is to promote and encourage good governance, that is, a Government of the people, for the people and with the people. It is their task to educate the citizens to peace and to the appreciation of the benefits of peace for everyone. Let us eliminate corruption, which is more harmful to the nation than armed rebellion because it destroys the conscience of the very people in whom the citizens have placed their trust and from whom they expect better services. Let us respect the truth even if it hurts us. For the truth that hurts is the truth that sets us free. Truth can however thrive only where people have the full freedom to voice and live it.

All this comes from one foundation: We are all children of God in Jesus Christ whose birth we celebrate these days. By a happy coincidence, Muslims and Christians will be celebrating big religious feasts these days: Christmas and al-Adhah. May the greetings and wishes we exchange on these feasts help us to acknowledge one another as persons that deserve happiness, recognition, respect, peace and love. That is what God wants from us. That is the true spirit of Christmas. In that spirit we can honestly tell one another: “Happy Christmas,” which really means: “Rejoice! God loves you.”

Happy Christmas to you all.

Gabriel Cardinal Zubeir Wako

Archbishop of Khartoum.

Christmas, 2006.

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