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Lutheran, Episcopal Church Presiding Bishops Urge Prayers for Peace in Sudan

CHICAGO, June 5 /PRNewswire/ -- In a June 5 joint statement, the presiding bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Episcopal Church urged U.S. citizens to pray for peace in Sudan, and they called for "strong action" from the international community to restore stability there.

The Rev. Mark S. Hanson of the ELCA and the Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori of the Episcopal Church made their comments in a public statement following a new outbreak of violence in Sudan that "has threatened the resumption of widespread conflict in a nation just three years removed from decades of civil war," they wrote.

The full text of the statement is at on the ELCA Web site.

"Our sense of foreboding is heightened because the violence has come in and around Abyei, a town whose history, resources and proximity to the border between northern and southern Sudan make it a proving ground for the success or failure of the nation's still-young peace agreement," Hanson and Jefferts Schori wrote. Many people have been killed, much of Abyei has been burned to the ground and as many as 120,000 people have been displaced from their homes, they said.

The presiding bishops called for "urgent action from the international community" to address the present suffering and safeguard against the resumption of widespread and decentralized fighting. They noted that Sudan is already destabilized by "the unchecked and catastrophic war in its western Darfur region."

The presiding bishops asked for humanitarian assistance through government agencies and through private giving to assist newly displaced people; increased diplomatic pressure from the international community to demand that northern Sudanese military units withdraw from Abyei immediately; and that the United States and other parties to Sudan's 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) "insist on full and immediate implementation of the CPA and subsequent agreements, especially as they relate to Abyei."

"We have heard stories of great hope and courage, but also of the fragility of peace and the dire humanitarian consequences a resumption of war would bring," the presiding bishops wrote. "We hope this joint statement may raise awareness of the crisis, and urge Episcopalians and Lutherans to send a copy of it to their elected officials.

SOURCE Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
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