Pope Francis is "deeply saddened" by the assassination of two nuns in South Sudan.
“His Holiness Pope Francis was deeply saddened to learn of the brutal attack on a group of Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus last Sunday, resulting in the deaths of Sister Marie Abud and Sister Regina Roba,” wrote the Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin in a telegram sent to Bishop Mark Kadima of the Apostolic Nunciature in South Sudan and circulated by the Press Office of the Holy See on August 17, 2021.
Several people including the two nuns were killed in an ambush by armed men in South Sudan along the Juba-Nimule road, the BBC reports. The two sisters were returning to Juba, the country’s capital, in a private minibus after participating in the centenary celebrations of a parish in the east of the country. According to British media, this road has been the scene of a number of deadly attacks on trade convoys in the past, and murders of foreign nationals.
The pope denounces the “senseless act of violence” and offers “his sincere condolences” to the families of the victims and to the Congregation of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart. “Their sacrifice will advance the cause of peace, reconciliation and security in the region,” he promises through his secretary of state.
As reported by Aleteia, the archdiocese of Juba has announced a five-day mourning period. “Universities, seminaries, colleges, nurseries and Catholic schools will be closed until Monday August 23,” he said in a statement. The funeral of the two nuns will take place this Friday, August 20 in the Sainte-Thérèse cathedral in Djouba.
Pope Francis is following very closely the situation in this East African country, which broke out in civil war in 2013. Last July, in a message co-signed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the moderator of the Church of Scotland, Pope Francis renewed his desire to come to South Sudan on the condition that the “heavy promises” established in the Vatican in 2019 by the political and religious leaders of the country to advance the cause of peace be honored.