Bishop Cate has asked us to join in with the national Episcopal Church today to observe the International Day of Prayer for South Sudan.
She’s asked us to use the readings from the feast of the Martyrs of the Sudan, which commemorates some Roman Catholic and Episcopal bishops who were martyred in 1983. Since it’s a feast of martyrs, we have our red paraments and vestments, and our hymns and prayers reflect the theme as well.
South Sudan is in political and military crisis right now, a situation more dire and costly to life than any since the days of civil war between north and south that rocked the nation from 1983-2005.
South Sudan as a country is only three years old, just barely getting on its feet as an independent nation.
Internal conflict between the president and vice-president of South Sudan has mushroomed into armed violence that has killed thousands and displaced hundreds of thousands, rendering them refugees within their own country.
Old ethnic rivalries and conflicts have reared their heads. With the northerners no longer serving as a common enemy, the country that looked toward the future with such hope just a short time ago is now splashed across the headlines with words like “human rights violations,” “war crimes,” “rising death tolls,” and “mass atrocities.”
Part of what makes this, and so many other conflicts around the world, hard to deal with is the fact that no one party holds the moral high ground, and no one party is unprovoked.
All are justified in their outrage, and all have responded with violence. This is not a black and white issue, and we prefer issues to be black and white when it comes to moral judgments.
The gray areas are the hardest to navigate when it comes to moral discernment, whether those gray areas are in geopolitics or in our own personal lives. Continue reading