Bishop Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala has been named as the new President of the Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC). Bishop Hiiboro took over from HE Gabriel Cardinal Zubeir Wako Archbishop Emeritus of Khartoum who has just retired.
Bishop Eduardo has been a vocal proponent of peace and reconciliation, against a back drop of continuing violence, as the country enters its fourth year of conflict. South Sudan’s civil war has left more than 2.2 million people fleeing their homes, tens of thousands have been killed, and tens of thousands more are living in desperate conditions in refugee camps in neighbouring countries. The conflict has taken on an ethnic dimension, and the rise of hate-speech has concerned Bishop Hiiboro, who recently called for hate speech to stop, “For peace to prevail, we must all accept one another as brothers and sisters,” he said.
“Disparaging someone based on their tribe can only lead this country down a dangerous road. Let us come together and work as one to rebuild South Sudan.” Bishop Hiiboro was a member of the ecumenical delegation that went to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, as part of the 2015 Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), peace negotiations. Despite the fragile peace agreement between President Salva Kiir and former vice president Riek Machar, failing to keep the peace, Bishop Hiiboro has continued with his appeal for peaceful coexistence between different ethnic groups to foster conflict resolution and peace-building in dioceses and parishes across the country.
In an interview, he stated the root causes of the conflict and the need for ‘forgiveness’. “History has taught us that after the signing of a peace agreement comes the arduous task of rebuilding our broken pieces – social and political relationships, the fragile economy, and the infrastructure of our states, devastated by the conflict. But what we are dealing with is a conflict deeply rooted in complex political and ethnic divisions that didn’t disappear the moment South Sudan came into being on 9 July 2011.
“Many people in South Sudan are wounded in spirit. The pain of decades of war has not been addressed; our hard-won independence did not bring justice for the many who had suffered. No one has been convicted of crimes against humanity, and people have not been able to tell their stories, to relate what happened to them and their family members. Without reconciliation and forgiveness, our wounds will remain open.”