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Sunday Scripture Readings, July 17, 2016

July 14th, 2016 Posted in Uncategorized

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July 17, Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Cycle C. Readings:

1) Genesis 18:1-10a

Psalm 15:2-3, 5

2) Colossians 1:24-28

Gospel: Luke 10:38-42

My mother never ceases to amaze me. Any time I come for a visit, even on short notice, she’s got some sort of homemade treat ready in a matter of minutes. Whether it’s a piece of blackberry pie or chicken noodle soup, scratch-made spaghetti sauce or my favorite klobase sandwich, she’s able to produce something out of her freezer or pantry that makes me happy to sit at her kitchen table for a nice long visit. Read more »

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Vatican Letter — Pope brings a Latin American vision to mission of the church

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The challenges and experiences of the church in Latin America figure heavily in Pope Francis’ papacy, especially when it comes to making bishop appointments, addressing global issues and the pastoral care of the poor and the marginalized. Read more »

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Syrian refugees, all Muslims, graduate from Caritas-run schools in Jordan

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Catholic News Service

NAOUR, Jordan — Exuberant Syrian refugee children sang, danced and played with colorful clowns as they celebrated graduation at their Caritas-sponsored school in this sleepy suburb of the Jordanian capital, Amman. Read more »

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Wrong count on same-sex: Anglicans in Canada correct result of marriage vote

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TORONTO — In a turn of events, the Anglican Church of Canada said yes to a same-sex marriage proposal after a voting error was discovered.

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, warns against bullying in Toronto before the vote on same-sex marriage July 11. (CNS photo/Francois Gloutnay, Presence)

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, warns against bullying in Toronto before the vote on same-sex marriage July 11. (CNS photo/Francois Gloutnay, Presence)

The announcement made July 12 came less than 24 hours after it was thought participants in the church’s General Synod rejected the motion.

The Anglican Church of Canada now has three years to think about the implications of this vote, as the proposition will need to pass a second reading at the next General Synod in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 2019.

Anglicans in Canada had talked about the possibility of moving toward gay marriages instead of staying with a regime in which civil same-sex unions had the possibility to be blessed by an Anglican priest, but were in no way considered to be a sacred union. In the church’s 2013 General Synod, the delegates asked that a commission on the marriage canon develop a motion in favor of same-sex marriages for this July.

In order to pass, the motion needed the approval of two-thirds of all three chambers: the bishops, clergy and laity. When the results came out late July 11, the floor of the General Synod was quiet as the 234 delegates realized that the motion failed to pass by only one vote from a member of the clergy.

The Rev. Michael Thompson, synod general secretary, announced July 12: “We discovered that the electronic voting system we were using miscoded my electronic file. I was listed, and my vote was counted, as a layperson instead of a priest. This one vote changed the outcome of resolution A051-R2, the resolution to amend the marriage canon.”

The debate on same-sex unions for the Anglicans in Canada has been bitter at times. On July 11, knowing the pre-vote discussions would be emotional, the church’s primate, Archbishop Fred J. Hiltz, warned against bullying on both sides.

“This kind of behavior is not appropriate. It’s unacceptable,” he said. “We are all the body of Christ.”

 

Contributing to this story was Philippe Vaillancourt. He and Gloutnay are on the staff of Montreal-based Presence info.

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Crowds gather at memorials for slain Dallas officers

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Catholic News Service

DALLAS — In the week since five Dallas area police officers were gunned down, thousands have gathered in churches, parks, plazas, parking lots and a symphony hall to remember the fallen officers, to cry for hope and pray for peace and unity in communities across the country.

Former first lady Laura Bush, former U.S. President George W. Bush, first lady Michelle Obama and President Barack Obama hold their hands on their hearts as they sing the national anthem July 12 at a memorial service held in honor of police officers killed and wounded in shootings in Dallas. (CNS photo/Carlo Allegri, Reuters)

Former first lady Laura Bush, former U.S. President George W. Bush, first lady Michelle Obama and President Barack Obama hold their hands on their hearts as they sing the national anthem July 12 at a memorial service held in honor of police officers killed and wounded in shootings in Dallas. (CNS photo/Carlo Allegri, Reuters)

On the evening of July 7, as a march and rally protesting police-related shootings in parts of the country was about to end, a lone sniper targeted police, fatally wounding five officers, and injuring nine other officers and two civilians. After a standoff for several hours with a heavily armed, agitated and wounded gunman holed up in a second-story garage, police detonated an explosive device, killing him.

As the night turned into day, the sunlight July 8 gave way to images of busted windows, bullet-riddled police vehicles and shattered lives; a request from the police chief for better treatment and respect for those taking the oath “to serve and to protect,” and a resolve from city and faith leaders that neither a “coward” targeting police or others bent on disrupting a city would divide the community.

On July 12, President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and former President George W. Bush joined Mayor Mike Rawlings, Police Chief David O. Brown, the families of those officers killed and injured, hundreds of other law enforcement officials, and elected and interfaith leaders at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center to remember the “heroes.”

Those heroes were represented in the audience not only by their families, but by five seats, draped in black, with a folded American flag and a policeman’s cap.

Obama, Bush, the mayor and the police chief all spoke about the courage of the five officers and their commitment to protecting lives.

As he has done over the past several days during his European trip, Obama said America was not divided but that many times some Americans do not understand the plight of others, particularly the racial profiling that minorities endure disproportionately at the hands of the community and police officers.

The march through downtown Dallas July 7 was organized to show support for families of two men killed earlier in the week in officer-related shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota.

He talked about incidents that prompted the rally and shootings in Dallas. On July 5 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Alton Sterling, 37, was killed by police during an altercation outside a convenience store after witnesses said that he had a gun. On July 6, in suburban St. Paul, Minn., Philando Castile was fatally shot after a traffic stop.

“If we are to sustain unity, if we are to get through these difficult times, if we are to honor these five outstanding officers who we have lost, then we need to act on the truths that we know,” he said. “And that’s not easy. It makes us uncomfortable. We are going to have to be honest with each other and ourselves.”

He also acknowledged what Dallas police have been saying over the past several days, that their new community policing policies and tactics have reduced complaints of excessive force by 64 percent.

“They are deserving of our respect and not our scorn,” he said.

He, like the others, asked for unity, but said that many times after a tragedy old habits return and the commitment to change is left to chance.

But he and others said that the police department and the city should be an example of how to react after such a tragedy, especially how they have honored their fallen officers and how they have committed to take care of their families.

The five officers killed were Dallas police officers Sgt. Michael J. Smith, 55; Senior Cpl. Lorne Ahrens, 48; Officer Michael Krol, 40; and Officer Patrick Zamarippa, 32, and Sgt. Michael J. Smith, 55. Also killed was Brent Thompson, 43, an officer with the Dallas Area Rapid Transit.

Smith, his wife, Heidi, and their two daughters, Victoria and Caroline, are part of the Mary Immaculate Catholic Church community in Farmers Branch, just north of Dallas. Heidi is a fourth-grade teacher at Mary Immaculate Catholic School. A funeral Mass for Smith was to be celebrated July 13 at Mary Immaculate Catholic Church. A second ceremony at Watermark Community Church, where Smith worked some of his off-duty hours as a security guard, was scheduled for July 14.

At a citywide candlelight vigil at Dallas City Hall July 11, the families of the fallen officers gathered to hear others, mostly the partners of each of the officers, pay tribute to those they called heroes.

“I think those that love Mike the most that want to honor his legacy by choosing, because it is a choice, not to let our anger drag us into a darker place, but instead choose to continue Mike’s fight for good and to not let the evil prevail,” said Officer Marcie St. John, his partner.

Police identified the lone gunman as Michael Xavier Johnson, 25, a former Army Reserve veteran who had served in Afghanistan. Authorities said that during tense negotiations the evening of the attack, Johnson talked about wanting to kill white officers and said that “the end is coming.” Authorities have said Johnson was heavily armed when he was killed and that they found other weapons and tactical materials from a search of his home in nearby Mesquite.

Since the shooting, city officials and ecumenical leaders have made it a point to show unity in the wake of any divisive talk.

The mayor and numerous religious leaders, including Dallas Bishop Kevin J. Farrell, were joined by several hundred people at an interfaith service in downtown Dallas July 8, just a few hours after, and about a mile from, the site of the ambush. They joined hands and called for unity in the face of polarization and adversity.

On July 9, Bishop Farrell celebrated a Mass of hope and healing at the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe. The Gospel reading at the anticipatory Mass was from Luke 10:25-37, or the parable of the good Samaritan that speaks about love and mercy.

Bishop Farrell said the officers died doing what they do every day. “Protecting us,” he said. He also called for an end to the senseless violence and said that Jesus, through the Scriptures, already had laid out a solution: prayer.

 

Sedeno is executive editor of The Texas Catholic and Revista Catolica, the newspapers of the Dallas diocese.

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English cardinal welcomes May as new British prime minister

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LONDON — An English cardinal said he was delighted by the appointment of Theresa May as Britain’s new prime minister because of the commitment she has shown in the fight against human trafficking.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster, president of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, made his comments in a letter of congratulations to May, who was to take over as leader of the ruling Conservative Party July 13 after David Cameron formally resigned July 12.

British Home Secretary Theresa May waves as she arrives July 12 to attend the last Cabinet meeting hosted by British Prime Minister David Cameron. Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster said he is delighted by the appointment of May as Britain's new prime minister because of the commitment she has shown in the fight against human trafficking. (CNS photo/Will Oliver, EPA)

British Home Secretary Theresa May waves as she arrives July 12 to attend the last Cabinet meeting hosted by British Prime Minister David Cameron. Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster said he is delighted by the appointment of May as Britain’s new prime minister because of the commitment she has shown in the fight against human trafficking. (CNS photo/Will Oliver, EPA)

He reminded May, who has served as British home secretary since 2010, of her attendance at the Vatican in April 2014 for the launch of the Santa Marta Group, an initiative launched by Pope Francis to help the victims of the human trafficking.

“This is a clear indication not only of your determination to use high political office for the protection of some of the world’s most vulnerable people but also of your willingness to work with the Catholic Church at its highest levels,” the cardinal said in the letter, released to the media July 12.

“I am personally delighted at your appointment,” said Cardinal Nichols.

“I know from the work we have done together that you have so many qualities to bring to the service of our countries at this time,” he wrote. “I appreciate the maturity of judgment, the steely resolve, the sense of justice and the personal integrity and warmth you have always shown.”

The cardinal added: “As you take up this new and demanding office of prime minister, I assure you of my personal support, and I look forward to working with you across a wide range of issues in service of the common good.”

May, 59, emerged as the favorite candidate to succeed Cameron, who announced his resignation after a June 23 referendum in which Britons voted to leave the European Union.

After Andrea Leadsom, her closest rival, withdrew from the race July 11, the Conservative Party announced May would become the first female prime minister since Margaret Thatcher, also a Conservative Party member, stepped down in 1990.

Cameron offered his resignation to Queen Elizabeth II July 12 and, according to protocol, the monarch would shortly afterward summon May to Buckingham Palace and invite her to form a new government.

May had been a supporter of the campaign to keep Britain within the European Union but has indicated that she intends to honor the wishes of the British people and to take the country out of the bloc by invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.

“Brexit means Brexit, and we’re going to make a success of it,” she said, referring to the termed coined to refer to Britain leaving the EU.

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Mount St. Mary’s seminarian from Kansas believed drowned after saving a life

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WICHITA, Kan. — Brian Bergkamp, a seminarian from the Diocese of Wichita who was studying at a Maryland seminary, is believed dead after saving the life of a woman who fell into the Arkansas River July 9.

By mid-day July 12, he remained missing. Friends and family members remember were holding vigils to pray for the recovery of his body.

Brian Bergkamp, a seminarian in the Diocese of Wichita, Kan., disappeared into the Arkansas River July 9 while trying to save the life of another. Bergkamp, 24, had been kayaking with four friends, a man and three women, when they hit churning water. Bergkamp is pictured in an undated photo. (CNS photo/Catholic Advance)

Brian Bergkamp, a seminarian in the Diocese of Wichita, Kan., disappeared into the Arkansas River July 9 while trying to save the life of another. Bergkamp, 24, had been kayaking with four friends, a man and three women, when they hit churning water. Bergkamp is pictured in an undated photo. (CNS photo/Catholic Advance)

Bergkamp, 24, was among five people traveling in separate kayaks when all got caught in turbulent waters. According to The Wichita Eagle newspaper, Bergkamp jumped from his kayak to save the woman before getting pulled under himself. He was not wearing a life jacket. The other kayakers made it to shore.

“I knew Brian to be an exceptional seminarian, well on his way to demonstrating so many of the qualities needed to be a good and faithful priest,” Wichita Bishop Carl A. Kemme wrote in an email to The Catholic Advance, the diocesan newspaper. “I personally looked forward to the day when I might be able to ordain him.”

Bishop Kemme said Bergkamp was quiet, dedicated, diligent in his work and studies, and presented himself always with a sense of decorum and maturity, well beyond his years. “I was looking forward to how God would use him as a priest in the Diocese of Wichita. Now, we must all mourn his much anticipated ministry and the many fruits we all knew would be abundant by his priestly life and ministry.”

Life on this side of heaven is full of mysteries, contradictions and ironies, Bishop Kemme said. “Brian’s untimely death is full of these mysteries, which must wait until heaven to be solved.”

Bergkamp had just finished his second year at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, which is in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. He is the son of Ned and Theresa Bergkamp of Garden Plain and would have been ordained to the transitional diaconate at the end of the upcoming school year. His brother, Andy, was ordained to the transitional diaconate in May. He is preparing for the priesthood for the Diocese of Wichita at Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein, Illinois.

“Brian’s death is a great tragedy and a great loss, not only for his family and friends,” said Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori, “but to all who knew him and to the church he was so generously seeking to serve.”

In an email to the Catholic Review, Baltimore’s archdiocesan news outlet, Archbishop Lori said Bergkamp’s “heroic and brave actions” speak to the “great character and to the wonderful priest I’m sure he would have become.”

Msgr. Andrew Baker, rector of the seminary, remembered Bergkamp as a “quiet, but very effective leader.”

“He was a thoughtful and prayerful young man,” Msgr. Baker told the Catholic Review. “He was extremely reliable and hardworking.”

Bergkamp had served as a sacristan at Mount St. Mary’s, the priest said.

The circumstances of Bergkamp’s death show that he knew the depth of what it meant to be a Christian and a priest, Msgr. Baker said.

“It was self-giving love,” he said. “He didn’t have to think twice before he acted (to save another’s life).”

Seminarians and the entire Mount St. Mary’s community were taking Bergkamp’s death “very hard,” the priest added.

Derek Thome, a seminarian at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary from Viola, Kansas, said Bergkamp was a man of dedication with a big heart who would do just about anything for anyone, as long as it would help them.

“It didn’t matter what he had going on, his life was spent thinking of others first,” he told The Catholic Advance. “Brian died doing what he went to seminary for, to save souls.”

Bergkamp did so many things around the seminary, Thome said, adding that he was always keeping busy fixing things. “The joke goes that Brian was the only reason the seminary building still stands!”

Bergkamp showed a true priestly quality in his last moments, Bishop Kemme said, apparently saving the life of another while risking his own. “This all took place on the weekend when we heard the parable of the good Samaritan. Brian was living that parable in his last moments. No one could ever hope for or expect a greater homily than this.”

In addition to keeping Bergkamp’s family in prayer, Bishop Kemme asked the faithful to keep all of the diocese’s seminarians and priests in their prayers. “Pray fervently for more seminarians like Brian, so that others will come to take his place. More than likely, Brian’s heavenly service will help to make this happen, according to God’s providence.”

By Christopher M. Riggs

Riggs is editor of The Catholic Advance, newspaper of the Diocese of Wichita. Contributing to this story was George M. Matysek in Baltimore.

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Never mind: Vatican says liturgical norm of priest facing people during Mass not changing

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Recent comments by a high-ranking Vatican official have sparked questions about the direction priests should face while celebrating Mass, but the Vatican spokesman said Pope Francis has made it clear no changes are foreseen.

Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, is pictured at the Vatican in this Oct. 9, 2012, file photo. Cardinal Sarah, the Vatican's liturgy chief, has asked priests to begin celebrating the Eucharist facing east, the same direction the congregation faces. Although not commonplace, the practice is already permitted by church law. Cardinal Sarah made his request during a speech at the Sacra Liturgia conference in London July 5. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, is pictured at the Vatican in this Oct. 9, 2012, file photo. Cardinal Sarah, the Vatican’s liturgy chief, has asked priests to begin celebrating the Eucharist facing east, the same direction the congregation faces. Although not commonplace, the practice is already permitted by church law. Cardinal Sarah made his request during a speech at the Sacra Liturgia conference in London July 5. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, urged priests and bishops at the Sacra Liturgia conference in London July 5 to start celebrating Masses “ad orientem,” or facing away from the congregation, beginning the first Sunday of Advent this year.

However, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, issued a statement July 11 indicating the Pope Francis met with Cardinal Sarah July 9 to indicate no liturgical directives will begin in Advent.

“Cardinal Sarah is always rightly concerned with the dignity of the celebration of Mass, that it might adequately express an attachment of respect and adoration for the eucharistic mystery,” Father Lombardi’s statement said.

“Some of his phrasing has been badly interpreted, as if he had announced new, different indications from those now given in liturgical norms and the words of the popes on celebration toward the people and the ordinary rite of the Mass,” the spokesman added.

He recalled that the General Instruction on the Roman Missal, which “remains fully in force,” indicated that the altar should be built away from the wall so “that Mass can be celebrated at it facing the people, which is desirable wherever possible.”

The statement also reminded people that when Pope Francis visited the offices of the congregation for divine worship, “he expressly recalled that the ‘ordinary’ form of the celebration of Mass is that foreseen by the missal promulgated by Paul VI,” and that the extraordinary form permitted by retired Pope Benedict XVI “should not take the place of that ‘ordinary’ form.”

Father Lombardi also said it would be better “to avoid the use of the expression ‘reform of the reform,’ referring to the liturgy, given that it’s sometimes the sources of misunderstandings.”

At the conference in London, Cardinal Sarah had asked that “wherever possible, with prudence and with the necessary catechesis, certainly, but also with a pastor’s confidence that this is something good for the church,” priests face east when celebrating the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

Several liturgical experts said Cardinal Sarah does not have the authority to impose a change but is simply encouraging a practice that liturgical law already permits.

By Colleen Dulle

 

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Vatican and Sunni university look to restart joint talks

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican and Sunni Islam’s leading institution of higher learning have begun looking for ways to restart formal dialogue.

Pope Francis talks with Ahmad el-Tayeb, grand imam of Egypt's al-Azhar mosque and university, during a private meeting at the Vatican May 23. The Vatican and Sunni Islam's leading institution of higher learning have begun looking for ways to restart formal dialogue. (CNS photo/Max Rossi, Reuters)

Pope Francis talks with Ahmad el-Tayeb, grand imam of Egypt’s al-Azhar mosque and university, during a private meeting at the Vatican May 23. The Vatican and Sunni Islam’s leading institution of higher learning have begun looking for ways to restart formal dialogue. (CNS photo/Max Rossi, Reuters)

Acting on Pope Francis’ expressed desire, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue was sending a top-level official to Cairo to visit al-Azhar University, the council said in a written press release July 12.

Spanish Bishop Miguel Ayuso Guixot, secretary of the pontifical council, will attend a “preliminary meeting” July 13 with Mahmoud Hamdi Zakzouk, a member of the university’s Council of Senior Scholars and director of the al-Azhar Center for Dialogue. Archbishop Bruno Musaro, the apostolic nuncio to Egypt, was to also attend the meeting.

The meeting, which was requested by the pontifical council following the pope’s “expressed desire, will evaluate how to begin the resumption of dialogue between the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and al-Azhar University,” the press release said.

The encounter follows the landmark meeting at the Vatican May 23 between Pope Francis and the university’s grand imam, Ahmad el-Tayeb.

It was the first meeting between a pontiff and a grand imam after five years of tension and top-level silence since the Muslim university in Cairo suspended talks in 2011.

Established in 1998, the formal dialogue between al-Azhar and the Vatican started to fray in 2006, after now-retired Pope Benedict XVI gave a speech in Regensburg, Germany. Al-Azhar officials and millions of Muslims around the world said the speech linked Islam to violence.

Al-Azhar halted the talks altogether in 2011 after the former pope had said Christians in the Middle East were facing persecution. Al-Azhar claimed that Pope Benedict had offended Islam and Muslims once more by focusing only on the suffering of Christians when many Muslims were suffering as well.

After the papal meeting in May, el-Tayeb told Vatican Radio and the Vatican newspaper that his impression of Pope Francis was that “this man is a man of peace, a man who follows the teaching of Christianity, which is a religion of love and peace,” and “a man who respects other religions and shows consideration for their followers.”

Al-Azhar is considered the most authoritative theological-academic institution of Sunni Islam.

Some hope a renewed relationship between al-Azhar and the Vatican will lead to new cooperation in addressing urgent questions of citizenship that embraces religious and cultural diversity and how to counter extremism.

Maronite Father Fadi Daou, chairman of Adyan, a foundation for interfaith studies and spiritual solidarity based in Lebanon, told Catholic News Service in May that “al-Azhar has been working for … years in the direction of new Islamic positions concerning state, religion and politics and diversity.”

“Collaboration with the Vatican on this level can only add to the weight of the positions promulgated by this most important Islamic Sunni authority worldwide,” he said.

 

Follow Glatz on Twitter: @CarolGlatz.

 

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South Sudan church leaders condemn violence, pray for dead

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JUBA, South Sudan — South Sudan’s church leaders said they are extremely disturbed about heavy fighting in the capital, Juba, which has raised widespread fears that the country is returning to civil war.

“We condemn all acts of violence without exception,” the South Sudan Council of Churches said, noting that it is “time to build a peaceful nation.”

South Sudanese policemen and soldiers stand guard along a street following renewed fighting July 10 in Juba. South Sudan's church leaders said they are extremely disturbed about heavy fighting in the capital, which has raised widespread fears that the country is returning to civil war. (CNS photo/Reuters)

South Sudanese policemen and soldiers stand guard along a street following renewed fighting July 10 in Juba. South Sudan’s church leaders said they are extremely disturbed about heavy fighting in the capital, which has raised widespread fears that the country is returning to civil war. (CNS photo/Reuters)

“We pray for those who have been killed, and for their families, and we ask God’s forgiveness for those who have done the killing,” the leaders said in a July 10 statement read on national radio.

“However, we also urge repentance and a firm commitment from all armed individuals, forces and communities, and from their leaders, to create an atmosphere where violence is not an option,” they said.

Violent clashes between forces loyal to the president and those loyal to the vice president spread across the city July 10, a day after South Sudan’s fifth anniversary of its independence. The outburst was a resumption of fighting two days earlier in which at least 100 people died.

“We, the leaders of the church in South Sudan, are extremely disturbed about the fatal shootings” in Juba, said the church leaders’ statement.

“We make no judgment as to how or why they occurred, nor who is to blame, but we note with concern that there have been a number of incidents recently, and that tension is increasing,” the council said.

Archbishop Paulino Lukudu Loro of Juba represents the Catholic Church on the council.

For nearly a year, South Sudan has been trying to emerge from a civil war caused by political rivalry between Vice President Riek Machar and President Salva Kiir. The rivalry began in December 2013 and has left tens of thousands of people dead.

The church leaders said that they were encouraged by a joint call for calm issued by Kiir and Machar after the July 8 violence that began outside the presidential compound in Juba where they were meeting.

“We add our voices to theirs and urge soldiers and civilians to refrain from provocative words and actions, and to do everything in their power to avoid escalating the situation,” the council said.

The church leaders said that they are also concerned that the latest armed clashes are not confined to Juba and noted the shooting death in May of Holy Spirit Missionary Sister Veronika Terezia Rackova, director of St. Bakhita Medical Center in Yei, a city about 100 miles east of Juba, and other deaths “so common that they pass almost unnoticed.”

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned the “senseless violence” in a July 10 statement, noting that the fighting “has the potential of reversing the progress made so far in the peace process.”

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