By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
A Sudanese bishop is pleading for international help after marauding bands of guerrillas crucified seven Christians and desecrated churches and the Blessed Sacrament in a series of raids on villages in Sudan.
Bishop Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala of Tombura-Yambio called for help after the government failed to act when members of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) kidnapped and crucified seven people in Ezo and near Nzara.
According to reports by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the first incident occurred when the guerillas stormed Our Lady Queen of Peace Church in Ezo during a novena service. After desecrating the altar and the Host, they abducted 17 people, mostly youth in their teens and 20’s. Shortly after the raid, one of the young men who had been kidnapped was found dead after being nailed to a tree and mutilated.
The bishop said the attack, which happened on the feast of the Assumption, was “a huge shock to us.”
“It was hard to take in the fact that we were so exposed to such a risk,” he said. “The attackers clearly wanted to harm the people because they knew they were at prayer.
“Afterwards people kept coming to me with such suffering in their eyes, begging me to do something about the situation – to get back their children and grandchildren who have disappeared.”
However, less than a week later, close to the town of Nzara, guerillas ambushed six people in a forest and killed them after nailing them to pieces of wood fastened to the ground. The people who discovered the bodies several days later described it as a “grotesque crucifixion scene.”
According to Britain’s Catholic Herald, Bishop Hiiboro responded by ordering three days of prayer and a procession in which 20,000 people walked more than two miles barefoot in sackcloth and ashes in silent protest of government inaction to increase security in the region.
Bishop Hiiboro has also written to the government in Khartoum, the capital, to remind officials that under the civil war peace settlement the regime has a duty to protect the south of Sudan as well as the north.
Northern Sudan is predominantly Muslim while the tribal people of the south are mostly either Christian or animists. Since 1987, the LRA has been waging war against the Ugandan government but often raids neighboring African countries.
The LRA has been waging war against the Ugandan government since 1987 but often forays into other neighboring African countries. The group has a reputation for extreme violence including random murder, abduction, mutilation, sexual enslavement of women and children, and forcing children to participate in hostilities.
LRA guerillas, formed by founder Joseph Kony, are a kind of religious cult based on a blend of witchcraft, traditional African religions and Christianity. Kony claims to be a spokesman for God and a “medium” of the Holy Spirit.
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