Persecution in Sudan continues as reports highlight two Catholic nuns who faced a "senseless act of violence" from gunmen along with Bibles being detained by government officials.
CBN News said that nine members of the Archdiocese of Juba's Sisters of the Sacred Heart came from the Eastern Diocese of Torit after attending a parish's centenary celebration on August 16. They were on board a bus coasting on the South Sudan highway when the gunmen ambushed them. The sisters tried to hide from the attackers in nearby bushes but to no avail.
Two of the said nuns, Sr. Regina Roba and Sr. Mary Daniel Abud, were killed and buried on Friday at the St. Theresa Cathedral of Juba. The corpse of Sr. Roba was found later by members of the military. She was the administrator of a Wau-based nurse training school. While Sr. Abud was killed while searching for help. She was headmistress of a Juba-based school and was the order's superior general for four years beginning 2014. Juba Diocese's Fr. Samuel Abe have announced on August 17 a four-day mourning period for the two slain nuns.
According to the Union of Catholic Asian News, the surviving nuns recounted that the gunmen went straight to where Sr. Abud and Sr. Roba were hiding. The gunmen first shot Sr. Abud before Sr. Roba. Three other people in the bus where killed besides the two nuns.
Report on the "brutal attack" of the nuns have "saddened" Pope Francis who expressed his condolences to the families of the nuns and to those who served with them through a letter sent by Vatican's Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin.
"Trusting that their sacrifice will advance the cause of peace, reconciliation and security in the region, His Holiness prays for their eternal rest and the comfort of those who grieve their loss," Parolin said in the letter in behalf of the Pope.
Bibles illegally detained
In addition, the Christian Headlines reported that government officials of Sudan have demanded high custom fees for a shipment of Bibles that have caused it to be detained in the process. The said shipment are supposed to be exempt from customs fees as per Sudan's July 2020 Fundamental Rights and Freedoms Act.
Sudan Pentecostal Church Chairman Rev. Saad Idris Komi told the Christian Headlines that the government denied his tax exemption application for the shipment and has refused to release the Bibles. The Ministry of Religious Affairs and Endowments Advisor To The Minister Botrous Badawi have raised the detained shipment of Bibles during an August 8 workshop on religious freedom held in Khartoum alongside Sudan's "confiscated church buildings." Badawi identified several buildings like the Catholic Club and the Sudan Interior Church.
According to Badawi, the Catholic Club that is opposite the Khartoum International Airport was converted by former President Omar al-Bashir into the National Congress Party headquarters. While the Sudan Interior Church was converted by the government as the former National Intelligence and Security Service's offices. The Sudan Interior Church was used by Christian organizations and the Khartoum International Church prior to its conversion into a government building.
As previously reported, Christians in Sudan experience persecution through land ownership. The Urban Planning Department would often ban the construction of churches or the awarding of land titles to churches since registration for it were often for "residential use." This is on top of Muslims opposing the construction of churches in their area.
Muslims experience a different treatment from Christians since they are given by the government the leeway to easily register their places of worship or mosques.
Sudan's government had been practicing since the "al Bashir era" a "lingering injustice" against Christians that is "clearly discriminatory" since property for churches or places of worship are often tagged as "residential" by the government during registration then penalized afterwards.
International advocate for religious freedom Christian Solidarity Worldwide have called out in June against the Sudan government on this malpractice that has already affected many churches there.