A letter to the Most Revd Daniel Deng Bul, Archbishop of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan:
My dear Archbishop Deng
I have read with a heavy heart the news of the outbreaks of fighting in your dearly beloved country, the newest country in the world, and of the appalling loss of life among your people.
It is only recently at our synods that you addressed the people of Southern Africa within the Anglican family and those gathered at my home in Bishopscourt, warning us of the possibility of looming conflict. You urged us to pray and to use whatever diplomatic means we have to ensure peace prevails in your country. You invited us to join the retreat for your peace and reconciliation team, but unfortunately we could not attend. Our Province took a synodical resolution to work with your Province and this we are committed to.
I write today, the Sunday before Christmas, to wish you God's strength and to encourage you as you lead your people at this time, and also to assure you of our prayers for an end to this new conflict. We know too well in South Africa that when conflict assumes ethnic dimensions, it takes on the nature of a ticking bomb which, if it explodes, can wipe huge numbers of God's people off the face of the earth. We have seen ethnic conflict descend into genocide south of your country, where our colleague, Bernard, in Burundi has had to minister in similar situations. We hope that after years of war, your country and people will step back from the brink at this time, mindful of the immense suffering that war has already wrought over the last half century.
We pray for a quick and permanent ceasefire, and that South Sudan will be given an opportunity to grow and to use its God-given oil and other resources for the common good, and not for the benefit of those in power as they seek to manipulate others for their own gain.
May the joy and certainty offered to us at Christmas by the advent of the Prince of Peace surround you and your people even as we strive for an end to war and conflict.
God bless you and your people
+Thabo Cape Town
Photo: Displaced people in the grounds of the Episcopal Cathedral in Juba, South Sudan. (Andrew Green/IRIN)