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 CNS Story:

SUDAN-RICARD Jul-8-2011 (230 words) xxxi

US bishop 'caught up in the excitement' in South Sudan's new capital

By Bronwen Dachs
Catholic News Service

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (CNS) -- Bishop John H. Ricard, retired bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Fla., has visited Sudan numerous times in the last 10 years, but now he is "caught up in the excitement and anticipation of great things to come."

Bishop Ricard during a visit to Nigeria last September. (CNS file/Nancy Wiechec)

The bishop traveled to Juba, capital of the new Republic of South Sudan, to represent the U.S. bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace at the July 9 independence celebrations. He is a former chairman of the U.S. bishops' Subcommittee on the Church in Africa.

The South's path to independence "has been a long and difficult struggle, with much bloodshed," he told Catholic News Service in a telephone interview July 8.

"The baby is being born -- we are finally seeing the fruit of the travail and labor pains," he said.

"There is such a festive mood in the streets and a sense of history in the making," Bishop Ricard said, noting that, in Juba's market, "games of soccer abound and there is the sound of vuvuzelas."

Until the date of independence was set, "many people, myself included, weren't sure that this (independence) would actually happen," he said.

"There have been so many twists and turns, agreements broken, failed attempts, and now it's all happening," he said.

"As an outsider I can only imagine what it must feel like for those who have been an integral part of this struggle," he said.


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