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Church leaders join in celebration of Southern Sudan's independence

Catholic World News - July 08, 2011

The Vatican has sent a delegation led by Cardinal John Njue of Nairobi, Kenya, to join in celebrations as southern Sudan formally proclaims its independence on July 9.

Southern Sudan is becoming independent of the northern government in Khartoum as the result of a referendum, which in turn was organized after a peace accord ended the nation’s long and bloody civil war. Archbishop Leo Boccardi, the apostolic nuncio to Sudan, will also attend the independence ceremonies in Juba, the capital of the new nation.

“With this celebration of independence we are saying goodbye to the past and embracing a new thing,” said Cardinal Gabriel Zubeir Wako of Khartoum. Rejoicing that a peaceful end had been found to the conflict, Cardinal Wako said that “in all dioceses there will be celebrations with dance and song in thanksgiving to God and the acknowledgement of the good that those who have worked for peace have achieved in the country.”

In Rome, Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, issued a statement calling for other world leaders to “support Sudan and the newly independent state” in their efforts to build a peaceful and prosperous future. The Vatican spokesman noted that the Holy See has had diplomatic ties to Khartoum since 1972 and “will give due consideration to any request from the government of Southern Sudan.”

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