Humanitarian crisis as Sudan war bleeds seminarians, fractures Catholic Church


Sudan has no seminarians, the Catholic Church has all but disappeared and there’s a huge humanitarian crisis.

That’s the sum of the situation in Northern African nation right now.

The third Sudanese civil war – which began exactly a year ago – can be held accountable for that. And more.

Fleeing Church

The Catholic Church in Sudan has almost vanished from Sudan, says the pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

It says the Khartoum preparatory seminary has closed its doors. Some seminarians escaped to neighbouring South Sudan where they continue their training.

They and the work the Catholic Church has been doing in Sudan will be missed, ACN says.

Before the war, Catholics represented five percent of the population.

Despite its tiny toe-hold in the 90 percent Sunni Muslim country, ACN says the Catholic Church “was tolerated and could run some hospitals and schools, although it wasn’t allowed to openly proclaim the faith”.

Safe haven no more

ACN points out that the Sudanese people have always considered the Church as a “safe haven”.

When the war broke out many took refuge in churches.

However, after many missionaries and religious communities were forced to flee Sudan, parishes, hospitals and schools stopped functioning.

The bishop of Khartoum, Michael Didi, has not been able to return to his diocese. The bishop of El Obeid now lives in the cathedral because his house was partially destroyed.

Light of hope

Although the Church’s continued existence in Sudan is in question, there are signs the destruction is not total.

“Sixteen new Christians were baptised in Port Sudan during the Easter Vigil and 34 adults were confirmed in Kosti.

“So we have to keep hope alive in the midst of darkness” one of ACN’s Sudan project partners says.

“The Church in South Sudan is getting ready for the future by helping the Sudanese Christians to prepare for tomorrow’s peace.”

Tomorrow’s peace

The trouble is, “tomorrow’s peace” could be a while coming.

The current conflict in Sudan broke out exactly a year ago.

Over 13,900 people have died since then and over 8.1 million people have fled the country.

Armed clashes have broken out between the Sudan Army and the Rapid Support Forces (a paramilitary group).

Although both sides jointly deposed the transitional regime established after the overthrow of dictator Omar al-Bashir in 2019, they have different aims for themselves.

The two groups have been clashing to control the country’s wealth, especially gold and oil.

ACN says as neither side is willing to give in, the future of the civil war looks bleak.

“The situation is dire; countless women and children, starving and traumatised, face unbearable circumstances. Action is not just necessary; it’s a moral imperative to prevent further devastation” says UN refugee agency UNHCR.

CAFOD, the official aid agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, reports that a huge humanitarian crisis involving 25 million Sudanese is unfolding.

Help hampered

“Access constraints, security risks and logistical challenges are hampering the humanitarian response.

“Without incomes and amid disrupted aid deliveries and harvests, people cannot get food, prompting warnings of worsening hunger and malnutrition in parts of the country” ACN says.



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