Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Pope message for peace 2017


1 JANUARY 2017

Nonviolence: a Style of Politics for Peace

1. At the beginning of this New Year, I offer heartfelt wishes of
peace to the world's peoples and nations, to heads of state and
government, and to religious, civic and community leaders. I wish
peace to every man, woman and child, and I pray that the image and
likeness of God in each person will enable us to acknowledge one
another as sacred gifts endowed with immense dignity. Especially in
situations of conflict, let us respect this, our "deepest dignity",[1]
and make active nonviolence our way of life.

This is the fiftieth Message for the World Day of Peace. In the first,
Blessed Pope Paul VI addressed all peoples, not simply Catholics, with
utter clarity. "Peace is the only true direction of human progress –
and not the tensions caused by ambitious nationalisms, nor conquests
by violence, nor repressions which serve as mainstay for a false civil
order". He warned of "the danger of believing that international
controversies cannot be resolved by the ways of reason, that is, by
negotiations founded on law, justice, and equity, but only by means of
deterrent and murderous forces." Instead, citing the encyclicalPacem
in Terris of his predecessor Saint John XXIII, he extolled "the sense
and love of peace founded upon truth, justice, freedom and love". [2]
In the intervening fifty years, these words have lost none of their
significance or urgency.

On this occasion, I would like to reflect on nonviolence as a style of
politics for peace. I ask God to help all of us to cultivate
nonviolence in our most personal thoughts and values. May charity and
nonviolence govern how we treat each other as individuals, within
society and in international life. When victims of violence are able
to resist the temptation to retaliate, they become the most credible
promotors of nonviolent peacemaking. In the most local and ordinary
situations and in the international order, may nonviolence become the
hallmark of our decisions, our relationships and our actions, and
indeed of political life in all its forms.

A broken world

2. While the last century knew the devastation of two deadly World
Wars, the threat of nuclear war and a great number of other conflicts,
today, sadly, we find ourselves engaged in a horrifying world war
fought piecemeal. It is not easy to know if our world is presently
more or less violent than in the past, or to know whether modern means
of communications and greater mobility have made us more aware of
violence, or, on the other hand, increasingly inured to it.

In any case, we know that this "piecemeal" violence, of different
kinds and levels, causes great suffering: wars in different countries
and continents; terrorism, organized crime and unforeseen acts of
violence; the abuses suffered by migrants and victims of human
trafficking; and the devastation of the environment. Where does this
lead? Can violence achieve any goal of lasting value? Or does it
merely lead to retaliation and a cycle of deadly conflicts that
benefit only a few "warlords"?

Violence is not the cure for our broken world. Countering violence
with violence leads at best to forced migrations and enormous
suffering, because vast amounts of resources are diverted to military
ends and away from the everyday needs of young people, families
experiencing hardship, the elderly, the infirm and the great majority
of people in our world. At worst, it can lead to the death, physical
and spiritual, of many people, if not of all.

The Good News

3. Jesus himself lived in violent times. Yet he taught that the true
battlefield, where violence and peace meet, is the human heart: for
"it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come"
(Mk7:21). But Christ's message in this regard offers a radically
positive approach. He unfailingly preached God's unconditional love,
which welcomes and forgives. He taught his disciples to love their
enemies (cf. Mt 5:44) and to turn the other cheek (cf. Mt 5:39). When
he stopped her accusers from stoning the woman caught in adultery (cf.
Jn 8:1-11), and when, on the night before he died, he told Peter to
put away his sword (cf. Mt 26:52), Jesus marked out the path of
nonviolence. He walked that path to the very end, to the cross,
whereby he became our peace and put an end to hostility (cf. Eph
2:14-16). Whoever accepts the Good News of Jesus is able to
acknowledge the violence within and be healed by God's mercy, becoming
in turn an instrument of reconciliation. In the words of Saint Francis
of Assisi: "As you announce peace with your mouth, make sure that you
have greater peace in your hearts".[3]

To be true followers of Jesus today also includes embracing his
teaching about nonviolence. As my predecessor Benedict XVI observed,
that teaching "is realistic because it takes into account that in the
world there is too much violence, too much injustice, and therefore
that this situation cannot be overcome except by countering it with
more love, with more goodness. This 'more' comes from God".[4] He went
on to stress that: "For Christians, nonviolence is not merely tactical
behaviour but a person's way of being, the attitude of one who is so
convinced of God's love and power that he or she is not afraid to
tackle evil with the weapons of love and truth alone. Love of one's
enemy constitutes the nucleus of the 'Christian revolution'".[5] The
Gospel command to love your enemies (cf. Lk 6:27) "is rightly
considered the magna carta of Christian nonviolence. It does not
consist in succumbing to evil…, but in responding to evil with good
(cf. Rom 12:17-21), and thereby breaking the chain of injustice".[6]

More powerful than violence

4. Nonviolence is sometimes taken to mean surrender, lack of
involvement and passivity, but this is not the case. When Mother
Teresa received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, she clearly stated her
own message of active nonviolence: "We in our family don't need bombs
and guns, to destroy to bring peace – just get together, love one
another… And we will be able to overcome all the evil that is in the
world".[7] For the force of arms is deceptive. "While weapons
traffickers do their work, there are poor peacemakers who give their
lives to help one person, then another and another and another"; for
such peacemakers, Mother Teresa is "a symbol, an icon of our
times".[8] Last September, I had the great joy of proclaiming her a
Saint. I praised her readiness to make herself available for everyone
"through her welcome and defence of human life, those unborn and those
abandoned and discarded… She bowed down before those who were spent,
left to die on the side of the road, seeing in them their God-given
dignity; she made her voice heard before the powers of this world, so
that they might recognize their guilt for the crimes – the crimes! –
of poverty they created".[9] In response, her mission – and she stands
for thousands, even millions of persons – was to reach out to the
suffering, with generous dedication, touching and binding up every
wounded body, healing every broken life.

The decisive and consistent practice of nonviolence has produced
impressive results. The achievements of Mahatma Gandhi and Khan Abdul
Ghaffar Khan in the liberation of India, and of Dr Martin Luther King
Jr in combating racial discrimination will never be forgotten. Women
in particular are often leaders of nonviolence, as for example, was
Leymah Gbowee and the thousands of Liberian women, who organized
pray-ins and nonviolent protest that resulted in high-level peace
talks to end the second civil war in Liberia.

Nor can we forget the eventful decade that ended with the fall of
Communist regimes in Europe. The Christian communities made their own
contribution by their insistent prayer and courageous action.
Particularly influential were the ministry and teaching of Saint John
Paul II. Reflecting on the events of 1989 in his 1991 Encyclical
Centesimus Annus, my predecessor highlighted the fact that momentous
change in the lives of people, nations and states had come about "by
means of peaceful protest, using only the weapons of truth and
justice".[10] This peaceful political transition was made possible in
part "by the non-violent commitment of people who, while always
refusing to yield to the force of power, succeeded time after time in
finding effective ways of bearing witness to the truth". Pope John
Paul went on to say: "May people learn to fight for justice without
violence, renouncing class struggle in their internal disputes and war
in international ones".[11]

The Church has been involved in nonviolent peacebuilding strategies in
many countries, engaging even the most violent parties in efforts to
build a just and lasting peace.

Such efforts on behalf of the victims of injustice and violence are
not the legacy of the Catholic Church alone, but are typical of many
religious traditions, for which "compassion and nonviolence are
essential elements pointing to the way of life".[12] I emphatically
reaffirm that "no religion is terrorist".[13]Violence profanes the
name of God.[14] Let us never tire of repeating: "The name of God
cannot be used to justify violence. Peace alone is holy. Peace alone
is holy, not war!"[15]

The domestic roots of a politics of nonviolence

5. If violence has its source in the human heart, then it is
fundamental that nonviolence be practised before all else within
families. This is part of that joy of love which I described last
March in my Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, in the wake of two years of
reflection by the Church on marriage and the family. The family is the
indispensable crucible in which spouses, parents and children,
brothers and sisters, learn to communicate and to show generous
concern for one another, and in which frictions and even conflicts
have to be resolved not by force but by dialogue, respect, concern for
the good of the other, mercy and forgiveness.[16] From within
families, the joy of love spills out into the world and radiates to
the whole of society.[17] An ethics of fraternity and peaceful
coexistence between individuals and among peoples cannot be based on
the logic of fear, violence and closed-mindedness, but on
responsibility, respect and sincere dialogue. Hence, I plead for
disarmament and for the prohibition and abolition of nuclear weapons:
nuclear deterrence and the threat of mutual assured destruction are
incapable of grounding such an ethics.[18] I plead with equal urgency
for an end to domestic violence and to the abuse of women and

The Jubilee of Mercy that ended in November encouraged each one of us
to look deeply within and to allow God's mercy to enter there. The
Jubilee taught us to realize how many and diverse are the individuals
and social groups treated with indifference and subjected to injustice
and violence. They too are part of our "family"; they too are our
brothers and sisters. The politics of nonviolence have to begin in the
home and then spread to the entire human family. "Saint Therese of
Lisieux invites us to practise the little way of love, not to miss out
on a kind word, a smile or any small gesture which sows peace and
friendship. An integral ecology is also made up of simple daily
gestures that break with the logic of violence, exploitation and

My invitation

6. Peacebuilding through active nonviolence is the natural and
necessary complement to the Church's continuing efforts to limit the
use of force by the application of moral norms; she does so by her
participation in the work of international institutions and through
the competent contribution made by so many Christians to the drafting
of legislation at all levels. Jesus himself offers a "manual" for this
strategy of peacemaking in the Sermon on the Mount. The eight
Beatitudes (cf. Mt 5:3-10) provide a portrait of the person we could
describe as blessed, good and authentic. Blessed are the meek, Jesus
tells us, the merciful and the peacemakers, those who are pure in
heart, and those who hunger and thirst for justice.

This is also a programme and a challenge for political and religious
leaders, the heads of international institutions, and business and
media executives: to apply the Beatitudes in the exercise of their
respective responsibilities. It is a challenge to build up society,
communities and businesses by acting as peacemakers. It is to show
mercy by refusing to discard people, harm the environment, or seek to
win at any cost. To do so requires "the willingness to face conflict
head on, to resolve it and to make it a link in the chain of a new
process".[20] To act in this way means to choose solidarity as a way
of making history and building friendship in society. Active
nonviolence is a way of showing that unity is truly more powerful and
more fruitful than conflict. Everything in the world is
inter-connected.[21]Certainly differences can cause frictions. But let
us face them constructively and non-violently, so that "tensions and
oppositions can achieve a diversified and life-giving unity,"
preserving "what is valid and useful on both sides".[22]

I pledge the assistance of the Church in every effort to build peace
through active and creative nonviolence. On 1 January 2017, the new
Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development will begin its
work. It will help the Church to promote in an ever more effective way
"the inestimable goods of justice, peace, and the care of creation"
and concern for "migrants, those in need, the sick, the excluded and
marginalized, the imprisoned and the unemployed, as well as victims of
armed conflict, natural disasters, and all forms of slavery and
torture".[23] Every such response, however modest, helps to build a
world free of violence, the first step towards justice and peace.

In conclusion

7. As is traditional, I am signing this Message on 8 December, the
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Mary is the Queen of Peace. At the birth of her Son, the angels gave
glory to God and wished peace on earth to men and women of good will
(cf. Luke 2:14). Let us pray for her guidance.

"All of us want peace. Many people build it day by day through small
gestures and acts; many of them are suffering, yet patiently persevere
in their efforts to be peacemakers".[24] In 2017, may we dedicate
ourselves prayerfully and actively to banishing violence from our
hearts, words and deeds, and to becoming nonviolent people and to
building nonviolent communities that care for our common home.
"Nothing is impossible if we turn to God in prayer. Everyone can be an
artisan of peace".[25]

From the Vatican, 8 December 2016



[1] Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 228.

[2] PAUL VI, Message for the First World Day of Peace, 1 January 1968.

[3] "The Legend of the Three Companions", Fonti Francescane, No. 1469.

[4] BENEDICT XVI, Angelus, 18 February 2007.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] MOTHER TERESA, Nobel Lecture, 11 December 1979.

[8] Meditation, "The Road of Peace", Chapel of the Domus Sanctae
Marthae, 19 November 2015.

[9] Homily for the Canonization of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, 4 September 2016.

[10] No. 23.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Address to Representatives of Different Religions, 3 November 2016.

[13] Address to the Third World Meeting of Popular Movements, 5 November 2016.

[14] Cf. Address at the Interreligious Meeting with the Sheikh of the
Muslims of the Caucasus and Representatives of Different Religious
Communities, Baku, 2 October 2016.

[15]Address in Assisi, 20 October 2016.

[16] Cf. Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, 90-130.

[17] Cf. ibid., 133, 194, 234.

[18] Cf. Message for the Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of
Nuclear Weapons, 7 December 2014.

[19] Encyclical Laudato Si', 230.

[20] Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 227.

[21] Cf. Encyclical Laudato Si', 16, 117, 138.

[22] Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 228.

[23] Apostolic Letter issued Motu Proprio instituting the Dicastery
for Promoting Integral Human Development, 17 August 2016.

[24] Regina Coeli, Bethlehem, 25 May 2014.

[25]Appeal, Assisi, 20 September 2016.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Official opening of Good Shepherd Peace Center!!

Dearest brothers and sisters,


Finally we made, our efforts and miracles from God we managed to officially open our 


First of all we thank the Lord for the gift of such an important event and for all the goods that will follow for the people of S:pith Sudan; we are all here to serve the people of God and together bring the Kingdom of God.

Many people attended the celebration and the atmosphere was one of the most joyous we have experienced here in South Sudan; everything was telling us that peace is possible if we all pray and work together.

May the Lord bless the community who will run the centre and sustain them with His care and love.

RSASS Executive Body

Sunday, 11 September 2016


fr. Federico Gandolfi OFM

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Church leaders statement


South Sudan Council of Churches (SSCC) has issued a statement this Tuesday, 28 June, on the recent violent events that occurred last weekend in Wau, South Sudan's Western Bahr al Ghazal State.

Church leaders say they had come together in prayer and reflection on the Word of God and cry out for an end to the violence in South Sudan, "especially for the bloodshed to end in Wau and the areas around it."

"In the name of God, let those with weapons of war stop the violence and killing!", reads the statement.

In their statement, Church leaders also say that "since its outbreak, we have been deeply disturbed and aware of the suffering that the recent and intolerable fighting has brought. Many innocent people have been displaced from their homes, and cramped in church compounds, and UN protection of civilians sites. As peace makers, we are all outraged by the deaths, injuries, hunger and fears that have crippled one of our largest cities. But we are also aware that many other parts of the country are affected by acts of violence that have resulted in the loss of innocent lives, crippling of the economy and fear. Innocent are the victims and their blood have been shed as political forces battle and thieves steal from those who have little."

Besides, Church leaders encourage the people of South Sudan not to lose hope, but to trust in God.

They also "urge for the Transitional Government of National Unity to immediately bring the violence to a halt and to call all forces to stand down." They, moreover, "demand that human rights be upheld and all citizens be protected until they can safely return home with humanitarian support given to those affected by the fighting".

They further "call for an immediate recommitment of the parties to the Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCISS)" and urge and call on the people "to remain calm, embrace unity and peace".

Finally, Church leaders "appeal for an open, credible and transparent investigation into the violence to be carried out and for its cause to be clarified and responsible parties held to account."

Wau has witnessed a great deal of violence over the weekend. A government official has disclosed that more than 40 people were killed and thousands displaced in the clashes that occurred in Wau last weekend. The situation, however, remains calm and an investigation into the causes of the violence and fighting is said to be on the way.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

A workshop report

Intra Africa Hotel,  Juba
May 17-19, 2016

Narrative Report

From May 17-19, 2016, we were privileged to be able to conduct a three full-day workshop in Juba, South Sudan on the topic of Youth Ministry, Mentoring and Accompaniment.  This event was to build upon the workshop of last year which examined the Discernment and Accompaniment of Vocations to the Priestly and Religious Life.  Following last year's workshop, the vast majority of participants expressed the need to have further training.  Upon reflection, it was decided to choose this year's theme as a way to not only offer more assistance to those engaged in the initial formation of candidates to the religious and priestly life, but also to assist those engaged in the general formation of young people.  Our rationale was that all Catholic youth ministry should aim to assist young people to discern their path in life in the light of their Baptismal calling, and this in turn directly impacts on discernment of the more specific vocation to religious and priestly life.

As we did last year, we again invited participants from all religious congregations in South Sudan along with representatives from each of the Dioceses.  The response actually exceeded our expectations so that over the three days, we were able to accept 48 participants coming from every diocese of South Sudan:  Juba, Tambura-Yambio, Wau, Torit, Rumbek, Yei and Malakal.  In total, the 48 participants were comprised of 34 men and 14 women, or 15 Diocesan Priests, 32 Religious and 1 layman.  Not included among these numbers were our two facilitators: Fr Augustine Sellam SDB, a member of the Salesians, and Mr Nelson King.  Fr Augustine was the main presenter and was present for the whole three days, while Mr King attended the first morning only for his presentation.

The program schedule is at the end of this report and the following is a brief outline of each day:
Day 1:
The morning was devoted to the theme of The Situation and Challenges facing Young People in South Sudan Today.  It was presented by Mr Nelson King who has acted as a youth advisor to the Archdiocese of Juba.  Mr King is currently engaged in counseling, specifically in the area of HIV-AIDS.  He helped to set the stage for our workshop by outlining some of the major challenges facing young people from his own experience.  He also offered some ways in which he believed these challenges need addressing.  Following his presentation, there was an ample period for questions, clarifications and discussion among the participants.  Several raised their own concerns from their experience of working with youth which helped to clarify the expectations and needs of our participants when it came to ministry with youth.

In the afternoon, our main presenter, Fr Augustine Sellam SDB began by looking at the topics:  New Wine in New Wine Skins - Youth Ministry in Perspective  and Principles, Components and Models of Youth Ministry.  Using a combination of Powerpoint Presentations, an animated style of delivering his material, handout questionnaires, and interaction among the participants including through the use of games, Fr Augustine covered the above topics and what followed over the next two days.  He not only offered us useful material, but modeled a style that would be attractive and conducive to working with youth.

Day 2:
In the morning of Day 2, we continued with the topic of Models of Youth Ministry, using as a paradigm the journey of the two disciples to Emmaus in Luke 24.  We then moved on to the topic of the Qualities of a Youth Minister in which we were offered a chance to reflect on ourselves in terms of how we may or may not be developing the sorts of skills and qualities that are essential for effective ministry with youth.  The tips offered by Fr Augustine were helpful in that they were practical and possible to do by most of us.

In the afternoon we then moved to the topic of Youth Mentoring.  Again, Fr Augustine used an example from Scripture, namely that of St Paul in 2 Tim 1:ff.  Among much material, he spoke of the types: Upward and Downward Mentor and helped us to reflect on our own experience of being mentored by each of these, both necessary and helpful for the young.

Day 3:
On the final morning of the workshop, we began looking at the large topic of Accompaniment in Formation.  Part of this was to again look at the characteristics and trends, both positive and negative which are shaping our world and therefore our young people.  The question was then asked, "What type of formation are we giving to our candidates in religious and priestly life that will allow them to be at the vanguard of what is happening in our world?"  Fr Augustine challenged us by getting us to think in different categories in relation to our candidates and stressing that we must offer them a true perspective of religious and priestly life and not just a dream.

The final session of the day was devoted to the Myer-Briggs Type Indicator.  We were each given an opportunity to complete a questionnaire to assist us to identify our type and then we looked at some of the characteristics, strengths and weaknesses of each type as time allowed.  This was helpful in that it made us alert to not only our own different working styles and preferences, but to those of our candidates.  This enables us to view them according to their differing gifts rather than as simply not fitting in with our own style or personality.

Finally, after some concluding remarks by Fr Augustine, we closed the workshop with the celebration of the Eucharist.  Fr Augustine was the main celebrant and led us in prayer using some ways that again might be attractive and helpful for young people.  All in all, the whole workshop proved to be most informative, practical and enjoyable.  Evaluation forms were distributed to the participants, and all those who responded gave a high score to the helpfulness of both the material and the presenters of the workshop.

Fr Mario Debattista ofm
for the Organizing Committee

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Laudato si... And we are planting a tree

Following RSASS General Assembly recommendation, during our Parish feast today we have planted a Mango tree at the presence of many  parishioners.
A simple moment, an important sign to take care of our common Home

Commments on Holy Trinity Sunday readings

Homily for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

by Fr Mario De Battista ofm

This feast of the Holy Trinity we celebrate today is clearly a celebration of who God is. We Christians, unlike other world religions, say that God has revealed himself to be one God, but that this God is three Persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Each Person is wholly and totally God and yet there are not three separate Gods, but one God.

Brothers and sisters, this God of Christians that we believe in and worship is we say, a mystery. When we call God a mystery we are not saying that God is so far above us human beings that we cannot know anything about him. No, if we could not know anything about God, then our faith would be something strange, even useless. Rather, when we call God a mystery and put our faith in Him, we are placing our trust and hope and lives into the hands of a God whom we can know more and more about, but without ever reaching the end of our knowledge. This is God as mystery, a being without end, a being we can never know completely, a being who shows Himself to us without end.

It is perhaps for this reason that in today's Gospel, we hear Jesus say that he still has many things to say to the disciples (and to us), but that they would be too much for us now. The knowledge of the mysterious God that Jesus himself knows completely cannot and should not be known by us completely, at least not at once. Rather, we must wait for the Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit, who will lead us to the complete truth, to the complete knowledge of who God is and what God is like.

Brothers and sisters, God knows us infinitely better than we know Him and certainly better than we even know ourselves. God knows that even if he were to give us the complete truth about himself (and about ourselves), we would still not be able to receive it and understand it. As St Augustine once said, for us to know the total mystery of God, it would be like a boy trying to empty all the water of the ocean into a small hole he has dug on the seashore.

So today's feast is not one in which we pretend to know or fully understand the mystery of God as Trinity. More important than this is to celebrate this feast as part of the slow journey of the human family to know more of the truth of who God is. We are on a journey of knowing God, a journey that will only end when we ourselves are one with the God who made us; one with the God who is three Persons but One.

As we travel this journey led by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth who is given to us by the Father through his Son, Jesus Christ, we are also on a journey to know ourselves more and more. I say this because one of the first things we know about God is that He created us. He created us from His own desire that we exist and have life, and He created us from His own desire to love us as His very own children. We, each and every one of us, only exist because God himself wants us to exist and because God loves us enough. Without God wanting us and loving us, none of us would be here at all.

And this is why we can say that each one of us is made in the image and likeness of God. Each of us is made from God's desire and love. Each of us comes from and out of the God who is and the God who is love itself. This also is the truth that Jesus wants us to learn through his Holy Spirit. This truth is one that we each need to learn and understand and take to our hearts in how we live with one another. Because this truth teaches us of the infinite goodness and worth that we each have in the mind and heart of God.

Brothers and sisters, our parish theme today is "Living the Truth as God's Family." Living the truth means at least that we know the truth of how precious and loved we each are to our God … that we know we are not important or valuable to God because of the things that we human beings tend to value in each other, such as our wealth and possessions, our power and influence, our physical attractiveness or personality. No, we are valued and loved because of God's loving desire that we exist, and everything we do and how we live should be to give thanks to God for so great a gift.

Finally, it is when we try to live this truth, is then that we live truly as God's family. To live as God's family means we live as God made us to be – his beloved sons and daughters, brothers and sisters to one another. Living the truth as God's family, as the Spirit of God teaches us, means there can be no place in our Christian communities for the sorts of divisions that affect our nation. I do not need to name these I think.

God is three Persons but one God. We are many persons, but because we are made in God's image and likeness, we too are called to be one. Let us continue the journey to become one, placing our hope and trust in the God we profess as Trinity.