Shot bishop-elect meets pope

On Monday, Pope Francis met the South Sudan bishop-elect who was shot in the legs last April shortly after his nomination to lead Rumbek diocese.

Bishop-elect Christian Carlassare (44) had a private meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Monday.

Carlassare’s episcopal consecration is scheduled for March 25.

It was deferred after the shooting, which occurred when two armed men fired multiple bullets at his door, gaining access to his room in a block that houses priests serving at the Diocese of Rumbek’s Holy Family Cathedral.

In a video recording from his hospital bed the day after the attack, Carlassare described the shooting as life-threatening. He also called for reconciliation and “justice with the same heart of God” among the people of Rumbek.

“It will take some time for my legs to be able again to walk, but I assure you that I will be back and I will be with you.”

After initial treatment in Rumbek, he was airlifted to Kenya’s capital, Nairobi.

Speaking from his hospital bed a few weeks later, Carlassare again stressed his desire for peace.

He said he was imploring God for an end to “violence, division, [and] selfish desires” in the diocese of Rumbek.

“I bend low in front of God to intercede for the church of Rumbek. I pray for the conversion of sinners.

“I offer the pain I’m going through so that the Lord our God may purify the church of Rumbek from all errors and things like these may happen no more; no room for violence, division, [and] selfish desires that come from the devil.”

After several weeks in hospital, Carlassare was discharged on 21 May.

Originally from Italy, the South Sudan bishop-elect had served as a Comboni missionary priest in South Sudan’s Malakal diocese since 2005.

The Diocese of Rumbek became vacant in July 2011 upon the death of Bishop Cesare Mazzolari, who was also a Comboni Missionary.

South Sudan police detained six people in relation to the shooting.

A priest was among them: Father John Mathiang, who served as Rumbek’s diocesan coordinator.

Two of the six suspects were freed at the beginning of this month because because of a “lack of evidence against them.”

Pope Francis will be visiting South Sudan’s capital city of Juba in early July.



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