March 3, 2017 (JUBA) – A South Sudan’s Catholic bishop sharply criticised a declaration of National Day of Prayer scheduled for March 10 by President Salva Kiir describing as “political and mockery”
The Catholic Auxiliary Bishop of Juba, Reverend Santo Laku Pio, told the Voice of America (VOA) on Thursday that he would not attend the prayer next week.
“I have been praying for South Sudan every day. This morning, I prayed for South Sudan. That prayer called by Salva Kiir; I will never and never understand. Unless they carry me as a corpse but I will never attend that prayer. It is a political prayer. It is a mockery,” said Santo.
President Kiir announced the National Day of Prayer on Wednesday in an audio message sent out to reporters.
“As your leader and the Patron for the National Dialogue, I am obliged to release this public statement to inform all our citizens and friends about the planned National Day of Prayers that’s going to be held on March 10th, 2017,” said President last Wednesday.
Bishop Santo rejected the call, citing that the action of President Kii’s army has caused displacement of Equatoria Region areas of Lango, Acholi, Madi, Kaku, Kuku and Upper Nile displacement of Shilluk tribe from their homes.
President Kiir “does not even come to church these days,” added the outspoken bishop.
“Why should I go [to] pray where there is no holiness, where there is no forgiveness? It is a joke to hear the president of the country calling prayers while at the moment, the soldiers are hunting people across South Sudan,” he stressed.
When told that he might be perceived political for crossing the neutral lines as a religious leader and comment on political issues, he rejected the assertion, insisting government forces are causing massive displacement of civilians through their actions.
He further said the first step should be taken by the government is to stop the war.
“People are being thrown away from their ancestral land. There have been a lot of robbery of the resources of the people,” he said.