U.S. bishops urge action now to end Darfur crisis as negotiation ongoing
WASHINGTON (Catholic Online) — The United States cannot remain silent in the face of a campaign of death against the people of the Darfur region of Sudan and must act to end the humanitarian crisis there, the U.S. Catholics bishops said.
CARDINAL SPEAKS DURING DARFUR RALLY – Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington speaks during a rally held on the National Mall in Washington April 30 to call for the end to the genocide taking place in the Darfur region of Sudan. The 'Save Darfur' rally included an alliance of more than 150 faith-based humanitarian and human-rights organizations. (CNS)
In an April 28 statement prepared in anticipation of the April 30 "Rally to Stop Genocide" in Darfur on the National Mall here, the U.S. Catholic bishops have called on elected officials to strengthen their efforts to bring a definitive end to the moral and humanitarian crisis in Darfur.
“Sunday’s Save Darfur Rally should remind our leaders that our nation cannot remain silent in the face of killings, rape and destruction,” said Bishop Thomas Wenski of Orlando, Fla., chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on International Policy. “Our country can and must do more, much more, to defend and protect innocent civilians in Darfur. Anything else would be unworthy of us as a people committed to human life and dignity.”
“We must ‘Save Darfur,’” he said.
The Washington protest, sponsored by the Save Darfur Coalition, an alliance of more than 150 faith-based, humanitarian and human-rights organizations, drew a reported estimated 10,000 and 15,000, with demonstrators coming from as many as 41 states, according to The Washington Post. Among the many religious leaders attending was Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington.
The rally took place in the shadow of a humanitarian situation that is worsening, according to the United Nations and human-rights groups, with an estimated 200,000 to 400,000 have died, 2.5 million, most of them non-Arabs, have fled to refugee camps inside Darfur or to neighboring Chad, and 3.5 million at risk of starvation.
Mediators from the African Union agreed May 1, 2006, to give warring parties an additional 48 hours to strike a peace deal only hours after a midnight deadline to complete negotiations between the government and rebel groups on security, wealth-sharing and power-sharing issues.
The Darfur conflict began in February 2003, when mostly non-Arab rebels launched attacks seeking greater political autonomy.
Bishop Wenski said that in response “the proxy militias, known as the janjaweed, began a ruthless campaign of death and destruction against the non-Arab population of Darfur, with the support and acquiescence of the Sudanese government in Khartoum.
In 2004, the United States labeled the atrocities as genocide.
Bishop Wenski said that the U.S. bishops’ conference “has long advocated on behalf of the victims of the campaign of death and destruction in Darfur, where innocent civilians remain trapped in the middle of violent clashes between the Sudanese army and rebel forces, as well as subject to inhuman cruelty at the hands of the janjaweed militia.”
The U.S. Catholic bishops welcome the Administration’s latest efforts to strengthen the mission of the poorly funded, ill-equipped and undermanned peacekeepers from the African Union who have sought to bring some measure of protection to the helpless civilians of Darfur,” Bishop Wenski said.
“Since last year, the bishops have repeatedly urged passage of the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act. Our bishops’ conference welcomes the recent action of the House of Representatives, which joined the Senate in approving a version of this important legislation. But with more than 400,000 dead, these measures are not enough,” he said.
“The U.S. Catholic bishops join with the leaders of other faith communities and all people of good will in an urgent appeal to the President and our elected representatives to strengthen their efforts to bring a definitive end to the intolerable moral and humanitarian crisis in Darfur.”
Last November, Pope Benedict XVI appealed to the international community to protect the basic human rights of the people of Darfur. In his Easter 2006 "urbi et orbi" (“to the city of Rome and the world”) message, the pope prayed for “relief and security in Africa to the peoples of Darfur, who are living in a dramatic humanitarian situation that is no longer sustainable.”
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
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