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Welby encourages reconciliation in South Sudan

07 February 2014

by a staff reporter


"Courage and faith": the Archbishop of Canterbury, accompanied by the Arch­bishop of Sudan and South Sudan, Dr Daniel Deng (far right), at All Saints' Cathed­ral, Juba, on Thursday of last week

"Courage and faith": the Archbishop of Canterbury, accompanied by the Arch­bishop of Sudan and South Sudan, Dr Daniel Deng (far right), at All Saint...

THE Archbishop of Canterbury, visiting South Sudan, amid political instability and in the wake of violent clashes, has urged reconciliation.

With the Archbishop of Sudan and South Sudan, Dr Daniel Deng, he visited and prayed over an open mass grave containing the remains of murdered church workers.

He said afterwards: "What we saw today in Bor was truly devastating. The truth must be established, the victims recognised, and the suffering acknowledged. Establishing the truth has to be the firststep towards reconciliation. We are called to tell the truth in love."

Bor, the capital of Jonglei state, changed hands between government forces and the rebels several times during the conflict, which brokeout on 15 December ( News, 20 December).

The President, Salva Kiir, has accused his former deputy, Riek Machar, of plotting a coup - an accusation that Mr Machar has denied. During the month-long dispute, killings followed on ethnic lines. Mr Kiir is a member of the Dinka community, and Mr Machar is from the Nuer ethnic group.

About 490,000 people are thought to have been displaced. A fragile ceasefire was signed two weeks ago, and peace talks are due to resume today.

Archbishop Welby met President Kiir, and said afterwards that they had talked "of the nature of forgiveness and what is needed, and His Excellency expressed his commitment to be a peacemaker".

Archbishop Welby told Christians in South Sudan that they were not forgotten, and urged them to see themselves as "God's people of reconciliation".

Preaching in All Saints' Cathedral, Juba, he said that Christians in England prayed daily for them. "Your courage and faith gives us courage and faith," he said.

The Archbishop plans to visitall the Primates in the Anglican Communion during his first 18 months in office. With Mrs Welby, he spent five days in South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

In Rwanda, he said how far the country had come since the genocide 20 years ago. "We must doall we can to encourage the vitalwork of reconciliation and healing,and the overcoming of fear," he said.

In the DRC, which has suffered several decades of conflict, and much sexual violence, Archbishop Welby expressed the wish to "show the love and solidarity of the wider Church amidst all you have been through".

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