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Persecution of Church looming in Sudan?

Catholic World News - October 11, 2010

The secretary general of the Sudanese bishops’ conference is expressing concern that the Church in the northern part of the nation will suffer persecution if the residents of southern Sudan opt for independence in a January 2011 referendum. In addition, “the lives of southern Sudanese in the north are under threat,” said Father Santino Maurino Morokomomo.

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, later indicted by the International Criminal Court, granted the south limited autonomy and promised a January 2011 referendum. Since 2005, the nation’s 5.8 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.

15% of Sudan’s 37.2 million people are Catholic, according to Vatican statistics.

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