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“Where’s the peace?” South Sudan’s question 2 years after pope begs leaders to reconcile

Ndangi William Kamunde, a seminarian from South Sudan, says there are many people who “stand for togetherness” and work toward peace, despite the government’s failure to address many of the consequences of years of conflict.

This was perhaps one of the most moving meetings at the Vatican in 2019. The urgency in the pope’s voice was palpable as he implored the leaders of warring parties in South Sudan to reconcile and embrace peace.

“I ask you, as a brother: remain in peace. I ask you this wholeheartedly. Let us go forward. There will be many problems, but do not be fearful. Go forward, resolve the problems.”

Ndangi William Kamunde, a seminarian from South Sudan, recalls the initial hope this meeting at the Vatican brought to his country, which had lived through six years of a civil war that began in 2013, just two years after the country had gained its independence from Sudan.

NDANGI WILLIAM KAMUNDE
Seminarian from Tombura-Yambio Diocese
“The president of the country came to Rome, and the pope himself knelt down and kissed the feet of the president, but the president didn’t take it as something important. FLASH What you told us at first, that you brought us peace—Where’s the peace? And yet people are dying. People are displaced. Children are lacking education, hospitals, the lay people are sleeping under the trees. There are no houses for them.”

Kamunde explains that the Catholic Church in South Sudan has been addressing many of the issues the government has failed to resolve. He says hope for peace remains alive among the country’s Christians, who make up about 60 percent of the population.

NDANGI WILLIAM KAMUNDE
Seminarian from Tombura-Yambio Diocese
“Actually there are people who are together. They stand for togetherness. Though I am from the Christian part and you are from the Muslim part, but what we need is peace. We work together for peace, so that we build our relationship with God.”

Though lasting peace still seems like a distant goal, Kamunde is encouraged by this togetherness he’s experienced both in his native country and now in Rome, where he’s preparing for the priesthood.

NDANGI WILLIAM KAMUNDE
Seminarian from Tombura-Yambio Diocese
“I have seen a lot, and I am still learning a lot that I will take to South Sudan, and I pray that with all my plans, God will help me so that I will have the knowledge that I’m acquiring here in Rome, to take back to the people of South Sudan, especially in my own diocese.”

The diocese of Tombura-Yambio has 27 parishes and over 1,000,000 Catholics. Kamunde expects to return in about five years, when he completes his philosophy and theology studies.