VATICAN CITY, JUL 26, 2004 (VIS) - Made public today was a communique from Khartoum, Sudan, dated July 25, from Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum," who has been in that African nation since July 22 as the Holy Father's envoy to show his closeness and solidarity with the Sudanese, especially with the refugees in the region of Darfur.
The communique notes that Archbishop Cordes, after visiting the shantytowns near Khartoum where evacuees from the south have lived for more than ten years because of the war, visited the camp at Kalma near the city of Nyala in the region of Darfur. Here he met representatives of Catholic aid agencies that are preparing - together with other Christian agencies - an aid program worth $17 million. The conditions of the thousands upon thousands of persons - in Kalma alone there are 10,000 evacuees - camped in the desert under tends of straw and plastic, are indescribable.
The local Arab-language media has given broad coverage to this trip by the papal envoy. The Church in Sudan and government representatives have repeatedly expressed their gratitude to the Holy Father for his concern for the African nation and for all those who are suffering.
On Sunday, July 25 the president of Cor Unum celebrated Mass in the cathedral of the capital city with Cardinal Gabriel Zubeir Wako, archbishop of Khartoum and with Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, apostolic nuncio in Sudan.
At the end of his visit yesterday, the Holy Father's envoy reaffirmed the need for "Sudanese leaders, together with the international community, to guarantee assistance and a safe return to their villages to all of those who have been deprived of everything; they have been forced to flee and live in conditions unworthy of man. The Catholic Church, through the local Episcopal conference, Caritas and other Christian agencies, is bringing a specific and ample contribution to support all those who, in more than 20 years of conflict, have abandoned their own homes. With the contribution of all the country's populations, a better future can be built for Sudan."
"Unfortunately," ends the communique, "the war in Sudan has been overlooked and ignored by public opinion for too long. Finally the world is following this country with attention; leaders who inspire international policies have discovered they have a duty to look beyond their own interests. However, a future worthy of man will be realized in Sudan also - and by no means least - in obedience to what the Holy Father asked in the July 25 Angelus: 'Pray for our brothers and sisters of Africa, on whom I invoke the maternal protection of Mary."
CON-CU/VISIT SUDAN/CORDES VIS 20040726 (450)