SUDAN: Kadugli bishop calls for day of prayer and fasting to end violence
"Once again we are facing the nightmare of genocide of our people in a final attempt to erase our culture and society from the face of the earth," said Elnail, who has served as Kadugli's bishop since 2002, in a June 21 statement.
The unrest in the oil-rich Southern Kordofan state began with clashes between the Sudan Armed Forces from the north and the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army from the south. But government forces from the north on June 20 were continuing an aerial bombardment of the region as President Omar al-Bashir, wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity in Darfur, said that he was prepared to go back to war.
Elnail said: "It is not a war between armies that is being fought in our land, but the utter destruction of our way of life and our history, as demonstrated by the genocide of our neighbors and relatives in Darfur. This is a war of domination and eradication, at its core it is a war of terror by the government of Sudan against their people."
South Sudan is set to become Africa's newest nation on July 9 following a January referendum in which southerners voted almost unanimously to secede from the Islamic north that had inflicted decades of civil war on them until a Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed in 2005.
"As we approach the July 9 day of independence for the new South Sudan, President Bashir has declared for all the world to hear that Sharia will be the law of the land for the north, refusing to recognize the legitimate presence of the Christian minority," Elnail warned. "Please pray and fast with us as you are able for a solution to this crisis."
Elnail is currently visiting the U.S. where he is scheduled to address an ecumenical gathering in New York on June 21 and hold a series of advocacy meetings on June 22 in Washington, D.C.
Elnail's diocese, which is located in Southern Kordofan state, serves more than 20,000 Episcopalians worshipping in 22 parishes and 50 sub-parishes.
Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul, in a recent statement, said that the Episcopal Church of Sudan and its personnel "have clearly been a target for the northern army since the fighting began. The calculated damage to our church buildings and the threats to, and arrest and torture of, pastors and known Christians because of their faith is indisputable."
The windows and doors of the Episcopal Church of Sudan guest house and All Saints Cathedral in Kadugli have been broken and the altar, vestments and church documents in the cathedral and the official residence of the bishop have been destroyed by fire, Deng reported.
The U.S.-based Episcopal Church, which continues to partner with and advocate for the Episcopal Church of Sudan, has observed a season of prayer for Sudan since September 2010.
The church's Executive Council, at its June 16-18 meeting, passed a resolution deploring recent military actions of the Government of Sudan and urging the U.S. government to take a number of steps to end the violence. The council expressed its "solidarity with the Episcopal Church of Sudan and its pastors and priests and in the church's call for peace in Sudan, its leadership and care for the people of Sudan, and its suffering as it has been targeted for violence and abuse." Finally, the resolution urged all Episcopalians to continue in prayer and advocacy for the people of Sudan, especially those in war-torn regions.