In August, Father David Hollenbach, a member of the Global Ignatian Advocacy Network on Peace and Human Rights, conducted a workshop for leaders of the Catholic community of South Sudan in the national capital of Juba and addressed South Sudan’s Parliament on the role of moral values in shaping the institutions of the World’s newest country. In his article for America Magazine about the experience, Fr. Hollenbach reflected on the sizable Catholic population in South Sudan, and how the lengthy civil war has weakened the country’s society with the Church left as one of the few functioning bodies.
“The Catholic community in South Sudan especially shares the responsibility to help shape the life of the new country. Because of this important role, Catholic Relief Services and an association of women’s and men’s religious orders named Solidarity with South Sudan invited me to conduct a week-long workshop in August for church leaders. I was asked to speak about how the Catholic understanding of social justice and peace could contribute to the development of the new country. It was a humbling privilege. What follows sketches some of the suggestions I made, moving from the foundational principle of Catholic social thought to several more practical recommendations…”
1. The protection of the human dignity of every person, which requires active participation in the life of society, is the core responsibility in all social interactions, and protection of the most basic requirements of human dignity is the particular responsibility of the new government of South Sudan.
2. The people of South Sudan should be helped to become active citizens through civic education that teaches them how to work together for the common good of all.
3. Citizens should hold government officials accountable for using the power bestowed on them to serve the common good of all, and the capacity of citizens to hold officials accountable should be strengthened.
4. Every person is to be treated with reverence and respect, independent of ethnicity, race, or religion; tribalism is a serious threat to attaining the justice and peace that independence promises and must be resisted.
5. National unity depends on justice in the distribution of land.
6. National unity depends on justice in the distribution of the proceeds from the extraction of natural resources such as oil.
Click below to listen to an interview with Fr. Hollenbach on Radio Bakhita, the leading FM station in Juba, South Sudan, which can be found on the website of Boston College: