New Nation, New Responsibilities

Just posted to our Web site, David Hollenbach, S.J., on what South Sudan can learn from Catholic teaching as it struggles to set a course for the future:

The Catholic community in South Sudan especially shares the responsibility to help shape the life of the new country. Catholics are a sizable part of the population, and because the long civil war so weakened social life, the church today is one of the few functioning bodies in civil society. Because of this important role, Catholic Relief Services and an association of women’s and men’s religious orders named Solidarity with South Sudan invited me to conduct a week-long workshop in August for church leaders. I was asked to speak about how the Catholic understanding of social justice and peace could contribute to the development of the new country. It was a humbling privilege. What follows sketches some of the suggestions I made, moving from the foundational principle of Catholic social thought to several more practical recommendations.

1. The protection of the human dignity of every person, which requires active participation in the life of society, is the core responsibility in all social interactions, and protection of the most basic requirements of human dignity is the particular responsibility of the new government of South Sudan. This foundational principle follows from the fact that all citizens are created in God’s image. This dignity requires that they all contribute to the life they share in common and that they all benefit from it. As Pope John XXIII put it in his 1961 encyclical Mater et Magistra, “human beings are the foundation, the cause and the end of every social institution” (no. 219). The new institutions of civic and governmental life that are being created in South Sudan, therefore, should protect citizens’ rights and enable citizens actively to shape their life together.

 2. The people of South Sudan should be helped to become active citizens through civic education that teaches them how to work together for the common good of all. South Sudan, like many other developing countries, faces the danger that the immaturity of its political institutions and culture will make it difficult to sustain a stable democracy. A single referendum and occasional elections are not enough. The church can help South Sudanese citizens learn their new role as citizens. That the church can provide effective civic education is clear from the role it played preparing people for the referendum on independent statehood.

Read the rest here.

Tim Reidy

 

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Bill Mazzella
6 years ago
Good things seem to be coming to South Sudan. This is so good to hear after so many
years of killing and deprivation. In general the people will welcome their new stability as it will make their diets better and medicine more available. The need for leadership positions is doubtless but with that comes the temptations to power and dominance as it did with the church of the fourth century. It would be great to see the people as the greatest benficiaries. Your words were a nice start, Tim.

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

Rohingya refugees wait to receive aid Sept. 21 at a camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. (CNS photo/Cathal McNaughton, Reuters)
This year the Grand Bargain on refugees seems increasingly fragile.
Kevin ClarkeSeptember 22, 2017
Residents mourn on Sept. 20 for the 11 victims killed in a church in Atzala, Mexico, during the Sept. 19 earthquake. A Catholic bishop in Mexico said the situation was extremely serious, and much aid would be needed. (CNS photo/Imelda Medina, Reuters)
The earthquake feels like yet another crisis tearing at our transnational families. The earthquake was a natural disaster, but the many ways American society fails to value the lives of foreigners, of immigrants, of its own citizens, because of their skin color or their Latino heritage is a
Antonio De Loera-BrustSeptember 22, 2017
“It is good to rediscover our history and welcome the diversity of the people in the United States.”
J.D. Long-GarcíaSeptember 22, 2017
These photos were taken August 16, 1920, at St. Elizabeth's Hospital for the Insane. Salmon had been on a hunger strike for 34 days. (National Archives and Records Administration via the website BenSalmon.org)
The courageous witness of 'unarmed prophet' Ben Salmon—precisely one century ago—anticipated a major development in Catholic doctrine on war and peace,.
Barry HudockSeptember 22, 2017