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Sudan: Archbishop urges repentance as election approaches

Catholic World News - February 26, 2010

As Sudan prepares to hold its first democratic elections since 1986, an archbishop has called upon the nation’s Catholics to repent for their sins, register to vote, and foster the integrity of the political process.

“God wants us to repent from the many sins we have committed against him and ourselves, especially in southern Sudan: tribes against tribes, killings, abductions, robbery, corruption and so forth,” said Archbishop Paolino Lukudu Loro of Juba, the capital of southern Sudan. “We must atone for these sins by prayers and good deeds.”

“I strongly urge those who have registered and are eligible voters to make sure they vote, because your vote is your voice and your choice,” he said. “The genuine voice of the people is the voice of God. It is as well your contribution to the common good of the people of this country.”

Two million lost their lives in the long Sudanese civil war (1983-2005) between the Muslim north and the largely animist and Christian south. The civil war ended when President Omar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir-- who came to power in a 1989 military coup-- granted the south limited autonomy. Since 2005, the nation’s five million Catholics have fallen under two sets of religion laws. In the north, all schools-- even Christian schools-- must offer instruction in Islam, and converts from Islam to Christianity face not only criminal charges but also death at the hands of their families. In the south, Christians enjoy religious freedom.

70% of the nation’s 37.2 million people are Sunni Muslims; 15% are Catholics.

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