In his meeting with the Sudanese minister Alfatih T. Abdallah, World Council of Churches (WCC) General Secretary the Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit stressed the important role of Sudanese churches in rebuilding their nation after years of conflict, along with the assurance of their religious freedoms.
Tveit was in Khartoum from 23 to 24 April, visiting church leaders and government officials at the invitation of the Sudan Council of Churches (SCC), headquartered there.
The visit is Tveit’s first to Khartoum since the separation of Sudan and South Sudan in 2011, implementing their peace agreement of 2005.
“Sudanese churches belong genuinely to the country,” said Tveit. “Christians here are citizens of Sudan and therefore have an important role in assisting the rebuilding of their nation.
“We support churches in their struggles and aspirations for peace. We affirm our hope in the government to accomplish its responsibility in protecting churches and Christians and ensuring their security,” he added.
Abdallah, Sudanese minister for guidance and endowment, affirmed this stance. “Sudan needs churches to rebuild the society after a long history of conflict. Their right to worship and conduct their activities is a guarantee in constitution of the country,” he said.
The minister promised further interaction with the churches. “We hope to hold regular meetings with the churches to address the problems and building of trust and dialogue,” said Abdallah.
In his response to the minister, Tveit said, “There will always be religious minorities and majorities in any country. However, it is regardless of these dynamics that all actors of the society, including the churches, should be working together for the rebuilding of peace in Sudan.”
In Khartoum, Tveit was introduced to the issue of limited permits for building of churches, which he raised as a concern to be addressed during his meeting with Abdallah.
Referring to the restructuring of the SCC across the Sudan and South Sudan borders, Tveit said that “This is an extremely important step and a sign towards the immense need of unity among Sudanese churches. The gospel is the ministry of the church, and it is through our witness that the cross will be seen amidst the challenges that come with creation of a new country.”
Tveit met with the Sudanese church leaders at the All Saints Cathedral in Khartoum. They included Fr Anthonio, chairman of the SCC, Abdalla Ali, acting General Secretary of the SCC, and Bishop Ezekiel Kondo from the Episcopal Church in Sudan. On 25 April, Tveit was in Juba, South Sudan meeting with church and government leaders.