Sudan: High-Risk Country for Missionaries

Reflects on the Death of Priest Killed by Rebels

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ROME, NOV. 30, 2001 ( Father Kizito Sesana, a Comboni missionary who has worked in Sudan for years, spoke with Vatican Radio about last Saturday´s ambush-killing of a missionary by armed rebels along the Ugandan-Sudanese border.

–Q: Was this religious hatred?

–Father Sesana: I wouldn´t say that it is hatred of religious against religious. What happens is that the religious in this area are the ones who are able to report what is happening outside the country.

The great majority of poor and simple people, who suffer abuses, do not have the ability to make themselves heard. They cannot speak English well.

Perhaps they report on events in a confused way and, as a result, are not very credible in the eyes of journalists of the international press. This is the reason priests are regarded as annoying witnesses.

–Q: How do Comboni missionaries´ work in this very dramatic situation?

–Father Sesana: They try to be followers of Jesus Christ and teach the Gospel, both with words as well as deeds. They go with open hands, ready to meet everyone and proclaim the Gospel to all.

Sadly, this exposes us to risks, but perhaps it is also right that someone is prepared to bear this hatred and division, to the point of witnessing with his life.

–Q: Are you afraid, as a Comboni missionary, committed personally in Sudan?

–Father Sesana: Yes, sometimes I am afraid; at times it´s a physical fear. Less than a month ago, I was surprised by bombing in the Nuba Mountains: All of a sudden, you hear a plane flying over; bombs fall and you have no idea where they will go.

I admit that at times I´m afraid. However, the people´s response, who see us as necessary and important, is too beautiful and makes us forget eventual dangers.

–How do you remember Father Peter Obore, the priest killed by the rebels?

–Father Sesana: I met him when I arrived in Kenya in 1988. He had been ordained a short time before. He was a young enthusiast, who began to work with all his might for his people and their protection. At the time, the situation in the country was more difficult, but he stayed and courageously faced the war situation and the Khartoum regime´s Islamization programs.

–Q: You will soon return to Sudan. What will be your first concern upon arrival?

–Father Sesana: I think that we must only work harder. We must increasingly try to make known what is happening in Sudan, for the sole purpose of attaining peace, a just peace. These people need peace. We must work for it.

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