New Primate of South Sudan: ‘Peace is deeper than a piece of paper’ 

14 September 2018

LAMBETH PALACE

Archbishop Badi and his wife, Joyce, with Archbishop Welby and his wife, Caroline, in Canterbury, on 31 August

Archbishop Badi and his wife, Joyce, with Archbishop Welby and his wife, Caroline, in Canterbury, on 31 August

THE new Archbishop of South Sudan, the Most Revd Justin Badi, is no stranger to the trauma of war. During the conflict that led to the country’s secession, a bomb fell in his family’s compound, killing his mother and aunt.

It was, he recalled at the end of last month, “a horrifying thing in my life”. The last words of his mother to him were: “May God help you not to die like me.” Years later, his wife, Joyce, narrowly escaped a bombing.

Today, he is praying that the peace agreement signed in July between the country’s warring leaders will be honoured.

His caution — “peace is not something on paper; peace is something which is deeper” — was sadly vindicated days after his interview, when Joseph Kiri, the national youth coordinator for the Episcopal Church of South Sudan, was shot dead while trying to deliver humanitarian reports.

Having been present at peace talks in Addis Ababa convened by the IGAD trade bloc, the Archbishop is conscious that without political will the deal with falter.

“The Church’s presence in the country at different levels of society, from grassroots to the leadership, and its representativeness of the societal diversity in South Sudan, makes it extremely well-placed to lead reconciliation efforts,” he said. “It provides the only safe place for parties to reconcile, heal, and build trust among themselves.”

Reconciliation will entail accountability. Last week, the UN announced that a military court had found ten government soldiers guilty of murder, rape, and other crimes against civilians and journalists at a hotel in the capital Juba, just over two years ago. It was the first time that soldiers have been sentenced for atrocity crimes in South Sudan (News, 18 March, 2016).

Last week, United Nations’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba, said that “the crisis in South Sudan is a children’s crisis”. She noted violations that included attacks on schools and hospitals, and the abduction of children.

During his visit to the UK, which included a meeting with the Minister of State for Africa, Harriet Baldwin, and speaking at a Chatham House event on peacebuilding, Archbishop Badi spoke of the importance of education.

Ordained as a young man, he was presented at his baptism by his father with three gifts: a Bible, a hoe, and a pen. The establishment of the new Anglican university was vital, he said, and was another stage in the Church’s long history of education provision (Features, 24 November, 2017).

“As the Government concentrates on wars, it is the Church that puts attention on providing education to the young people,” he said. “It is of great importance to establish education to the highest level . . . that will be able to prepare the young people to be better and good leaders for the Church and society, that will be able to take country the forward.”

ECSSBishop Simon Adut YuangBishop killed in crash. The Bishop of Yirol, the Rt Revd Simon Adut Yuang, was killed last week in a plan crash in his diocese.

Twenty people, including a member of the Red Cross, were killed when a plane carrying them Juba crashed into a lake as it attempted to land at Yirol Airport. Only three of the passengers — two children and an Italian doctor — survived.

A regional government minister, Abel Aguek, was quoted by the AFP news agency as saying that fog was a possible cause of the crash.

The Primate of South Sudan, Archbishop Justin Badi Arama, described Bishop Simon, who was born in 1975 and leaves behind a wife and six children, as “an energetic young man”, and his death as “a loss to the Episcopal Church of South Sudan. Please join us in praying for the families and friends of all involved in the accident.

“Jesus said, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.’”

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