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SOUTHSUDAN-RECONCILE Sep-8-2011 (390 words) xxxi

Sudanese bishops call for nonviolence, patience in building South Sudan

By Catholic News Service

JUBA, South Sudan (CNS) -- Recognizing the difficulties facing the people of South Sudan, the world's youngest nation, the Sudan Catholic Bishops' Conference called upon citizens to join with government leaders to build a country through reconciliation and nonviolence.

The bishops, concluding a three-day meeting Sept. 8, said in a statement that by working together, the people of South Sudan must be "one nation from every tribe, tongue and people."

South Sudan became independent July 9, six months after citizens voted overwhelmingly to secede from Sudan following decades of war.

"We encourage all citizens of South Sudan, with their faith communities, civil society and political parties, to participate in building a new, prosperous and peaceful nation," the bishops said. "We encourage a culture of hard work rather than entitlement or dependency."

The bishops committed the church to continue playing a "proactive and prophetic role" in public life by insisting on human rights and responsibility, the dignity of the individual and the Gospel values expressed in Catholic social teaching.

Lamenting the outbreak of internal conflicts in Jonglei state and the disruptions caused by the nomadic Lord's Resistance Army in Western Equatoria and Western Bahr al Ghazal states, the bishops called for the settlement of disagreements through nonviolent means.

"Violence is not the answer," the bishops said. "We call upon all stakeholders in South Sudan to work for peace and reconciliation. We recommit ourselves and our church to the continual process of national reconciliation at every level."

The bishops also called upon government officials and citizens to eliminate corruption so that all people may realize the benefits promised by independence.

"We recognized that 'Rome was not built in a day' and that the development of a new nation is a process which will take time. While constantly holding the government to account and always expecting progress, we nevertheless caution citizens to manage their expectations, to be patient in their demands, to be fair to the government and to allow them time to move forward carefully and in good order," the statement said.

The bishops commended the South Sudanese leaders for appointing both men and women from broad geographic regions to government posts, but also urged officials to move more quickly to address the delivery of basic services, the building of infrastructure, increasing crime and insecurity and the rising price of essential commodities.


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