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Sudanese Catholics participate en masse in Palm Sunday Procession

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April 3, 2007 (KHARTOUM) — “Large numbers of Catholics took part in the Palm Sunday Procession through the streets of Khartoum with tangible devotion” said Fr. Luigi Cagnolini, Comboni provincial in Khartoum, capital of Sudan.

“The procession through the streets was an opportunity for the people to see Khartoum’s Christian community, now an important reality in the city”. he added

“This year Catholics and Orthodox Christians celebrate Easter on the same day and this is making these two principal Christian communities in Sudan feel all the more united” says Fr Luigi. “the Catholics of Khartoum are preparing to celebrate Holy Week with faith and devotion” the missionary said.

“The Mass with the blessing of the holy oils is well attended. In our archdiocese we have this liturgy in the evening of Wednesday in Holy Week for logistic reasons. But the most crowded liturgy it the Easter Vigil Mass on Holy Saturday with baptisms, also for adults. This Easter about 70 people will be baptised and most of them come from southern Sudan or the Nuba Mountains”.

Civil war in southern Sudan, which ended in 2004, caused a major movement of people. , Over the past 20 years the Catholic community in northern Sudan has grown considerably. “Today we are 2 million” says Fr. Luigi. “It is difficult to ensure adequate pastoral care for so many Catholics; as the Gospel says ‘the harvest is plenty but the workers are few’. But this problem is common to dioceses all over the world”.

“With the grace of God the local clergy is growing in numbers - the missionary said. This is a paradoxical effect of civil war: in northern Sudan in recent years we have had about 200 ordinations. There is now a good group of local priests and this spells well for the future”.

With regard to the future of the Catholic community in Khartoum, Fr. Luigi said “two generations of Sudanese from the south have been born in the capital. Although they speak Arabic not the language of their parents, they still find it difficult to integrate into society. Nevertheless they are the future of the local church community”.

(Agenzia Fides)

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