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US bishop, CRS head at South Sudan’s independence

Catholic World News - July 08, 2011

Bearing copies of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, Bishop John Ricard will represent the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace at the July 9 independence of South Sudan. Bishop Ricard is the retired Bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee in Florida.

“We ask God to guide [the people of South Sudan] as they strive to build a new nation on a foundation of respect for human rights and religious freedom,” said committee chairman Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany. “We are mindful of the tremendous sacrifices and loss of life that led to independence and of the continuing suffering in the region.”

Ken Hackett, president of Catholic Relief Services, will also be present as one of ten members of President Barack Obama’s delegation.

Two million lost their lives during the long Sudanese civil war (1983-2005) between the Muslim north and the largely animist and Christian south. Following a period in which the south was granted limited autonomy and able to enjoy religious freedom, residents voted overwhelmingly for independence in a January referendum.

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