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By , [theguardian]

Pope Francis has opened the door for women who have had abortions – an act considered a grave sin by the Catholic church – to be absolved if they express contrition and seek forgiveness from their priest.

“The forgiveness of God cannot be denied to one who has repented,” the pontiff wrote in an extraordinary letter that was released by the Vatican on Tuesday.

“I am well aware of the pressure that has led them to this decision. I know that it is an existential and moral ordeal,” he added.

The order, which temporarily allows all priests to grant forgiveness to women who have elected to have an abortion and profoundly regret the procedure, is part of the church’s jubilee year of mercy, which begins on 8 December and runs until 20 November 2016. Read More on theguardian

 

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[LAGOS, Nigeria]- Gabon is the latest country to become a member of the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), after signing the Corporation's Instrument of Accession and Acceptance of membership in Libreville this week. Gabon is the 10th country to join the AFC. Other member states include: Cape Verde; Chad; Ghana; Guinea-Bissau; Guinea; Liberia; Nigeria; Sierra-Leone and The Gambia.

Gabon has an abundance of natural resources, with long-established oil, timber and manganese industries, and one of the world's largest deposits of iron ore. However limited infrastructure has been constraining the country's recent economic development. AFC aims to help address Gabon's most immediate infrastructure needs, in the transportation, natural resources and power sectors, among others, to assist the country in meeting its full growth potential and in diversifying its GDP and sources of income.

As with all other member states, Gabon's membership enables AFC to receive preferred creditor status within the country, the benefits of which would reduce AFC's investment risk, enabling the Corporation to provide more competitive financing solutions.

Overall, the Corporation has invested over US$2.5 billion in projects across 22 African countries and provides funding and project development expertise in a wide range of sectors including power, telecommunications, transport and logistics, natural resources and heavy industries.

Mr. Régis Immongault, Minister of Economy, Republic of Gabon said "I am delighted to be able to formalise Gabon's membership of the Africa Finance Corporation, an organisation that is successfully driving growth and development of infrastructure across the continent. The strong track record of the Corporation demonstrates its ability to work with both governments and private sector institutions to deliver innovative financing solutions for projects spanning a large variety of sectors."

Mr. Andrew Alli, Chief Executive Officer of AFC, welcomed Gabon to the corporation's membership body. "We at AFC are committed to proactively financing and developing infrastructure where it is most needed. We are excited by the government of Gabon's commitment to development and to supporting infrastructure investments as a means of achieving this objective. Gabon's significant natural resources, abundance of land and growing agricultural industry offers huge potential for sustainable growth and diversification, if the adequate supporting infrastructure is in place. We aim to make a significant contribution to this."

"By expanding our footprint and welcoming more countries as members of the corporation, AFC can address more of the continent's pressing infrastructure needs and build the foundations for robust economic development across Africa."

African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of AFC.

The former primate of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East has died. The Most Rev. Samir Kafity died following a stroke at his home in Rancho Bernardo, California on 21 Aug 2015.

He was 81 years of age. Born in Haifa, Bishop Kafity was educated at the American University of Beirut and ordained to the priesthood in 1958. He served churches in Israel, Palestine and Jordan before his election as the second Arab bishop of the diocese in Jerusalem in 1984.

Upon his retirement in 1998 he moved to California and became a US citizen in 2002.

“Bishop Kafity was passionate for peace,” said former Anglican Consultative Council secretary general the the Rev. Canon John L. Peterson in a statement to the San Diego Tribune-Union.

“He was the Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem during two major political conflicts, the first Intifada and the first Gulf War. He firmly believed that the foundation stone of peace was always justice and his call for peace always centered around a just world for all people. One of Bishop Kafity’s great sayings was, ‘We are all citizens of Jerusalem.’ Today we celebrate Bishop Kafity’s life among us as he becomes a citizen of the heavenly Jerusalem.”

Source: Anglican Ink

 

It has become a common occurrence over the years for Muslims in the Middle East who have converted to Christianity to claim to have been compelled to do so after dreaming of a person who they believe is Jesus Christ. Now, one militant belonging to the brutal Islamic State that has massacred Christians has converted to his victims' religion after dreaming of "a man in white" with a startling message, according to one missionary's account.

The government has announced that the Africa Union Commission of Inquiry will release its report profiling human rights abuses committed during the ongoing conflict in South Sudan next month.

The US Special Envoy to South Sudan and Sudan Donald Booth said his country is ready to expand sanctions against political and military figures unless warring parties end the violence quickly. 

MTN South Sudan, which is part of MTN Group, the largest telecommunications company in Africa, has expanded its investment policies to uplift sports standards in South Sudan.

An investment company in Yei has agreed to sponsor Yei Municipal Football Club through provision of the team’s requirements. The club was founded in 2004 by a group of committed players, and it plays in the first division.

Yei Central Girls’ Football Club on Saturday evening won the Mayor’s Cup finals after defeating Rainbow Girls two goals to one at the Yei Freedom Square.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has selected four South Sudanese referees to officiate at the upcoming 2015 African Championship League matches scheduled to start next month.

Six football clubs in Yei are participating in a first of its kind mayor’s cup football competition for ladies, aimed at identifying talent for participation in future national competitions.

The higher appeals committee of the South Sudan Football Federation has reversed a ban on a group of people, accused of causing disunity in the association.

[Juba, South Sudan] Children in South Sudan, who were forced out of school due to poverty, gender discrimination, or conflict, mostly at areas affected by war, such as Jonglei, Upper Nile, and Unity states are getting a second chance for education. The United Nations Children’s Funds-UNICEF has established a programme called “Back-to-Learning Initiative,” which was launched this year.

Speaking to media, the head of the EU delegation in South Sudan, Stefano Del Leo said, “The campaign targeting 400,000 children is a process, but that requires support from the government, partners, and the local community.”

“We are aware that we are all at the starting point because as we say, school needs infrastructure, teachers, and this is also to be set up together with the international community. And, we have to continue together with the government of South Sudan, and we are partners. We want to share this process because we both believe that the youth are the most important resource of the country.”

The conflict in South Sudan has affected so many families with worse poverty that has forced children out of the schools in South Sudan. The only way to avoid future poverty that might cause future conflict in South Sudan is by taking children to school, so that young generation with an education will love peace and unity. They will develop their resources and have enough for their families and children.

“The government must prioritize education in the country. There must be adequate infrastructure of education with classrooms and books for children, rather than 100 students in one classroom, which makes the learning process difficult. Teachers must be secured and well paid,” stated narrated De Leo.

Meanwhile, more than 50 children at All Saints Kindergarten in Rajaf East Payam, Central Equartoria state have discovered the art of painting and created their first masterpieces at their school. The two-hour art initiative on Friday was spearheaded by the sector South UN female peacekeepers from Rwandese, Ethiopian and Nepalese battalions.

Speaking in the occasion, Nadio, one of the female peacekeepers, said,

“The initiative was aimed to draw public attention to the need for good relations between Rajaf school community and the UN Mission in South Sudan.”

“My name is Nadio and I am from sector south. We want to conduct a drawing and coloring thing [with the children] and just engage them, find out where they are, and just play with them so they can be happy. We are here in Rajaf, and they will be seeing us. We don’t want them to be scared of the military so that we just want to make sure that they are okay with us,” said Nadio.

[ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia] – South Sudan’s former vice president, Riek Machar on Friday, 28 August, declared permanent ceasefire and directed all his armed opposition forces to fully implement it as of midnight of 29 August 2015. In a statement he communicated to all units of the rebel forces, Machar directed his chief of general staff, Major General Simon Gatwech Dual, to implement the order in accordance with the IGAD Plus compromise peace agreement. In Machar's statement extended to Sudan Tribune on Friday evening, Machar ordered that. “All forces [SPLA-IO] are to remain alert in their current positions and to act only on self defence or respond upon aggression,” the statement reads.

The ceasefire declaration by the top armed opposition leader, now the first vice president-designate, comes a day after president Salva Kiir has declared to cease fire also with effect from midnight 29 August 2015. This is accordance with the provision on ceasefire in the peace agreement which calls on both warring parties to declare permanent ceasefire 72 hours after the signing of the deal.

The two parties, according to the peace accord, are expected to work out the process of disengagement of forces as well as demilitarization of the capital, Juba, Bor, Malakal and Bentiu and with deployment of joint integrated police forces in the cities. This exercise is expected to begin from the three months of pre-transitional period before formation of transitional government of national unity. A work shop to bring together senior military officers of the two rival forces is expected to be organized in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, next week for the preparations in implementing the security arrangements.

While the two principles declared ceasefire, The Insider reported that the powerful defector general Peter Gatdet denouncing and rejecting peace deal signed by both President Kiir and rebel leader Machar.  

Source By Sudan Tribune with additional editing by TCT

[Juba, South Sudan] South Sudanese Bishop Enock Tombe has welcomed the signing of the regionally-backed IGAD peace deal signed by President Salva Kiir on Thursday, saying that the deal could usher in an “environment of hope... and readiness to reconcile with one another.”

Tombe previously headed a delegation of religious leaders to the peace talks in Addis Ababa. He is the Episcopal bishop of Rejaf Diocese in Central Equatoria.

“As a church we welcomed and congratulated the president of the republic for signing the peace to end this devastating war. We have to move away from bitterness and change our hearts and minds to focus and prepare them for forgiveness and peaceful coexistence,” said Tombe.

The bishop added in a statement Thursday, “As the church we will work together with the government to help spread the importance of living in an environment of hope, forgiveness, love and readiness to reconcile with one another,”

He said, “The time has come for South Sudanese to work together as they look forward to rebuilding what has been left by the war. As the church we pledge our support to the government and the people for immediate implementation of this agreement.”

“We are confident that all these differences and fears will be overcome if we collectively take responsibility to rebuild our lives and the nation as one people and as children of God regardless of where we come, tribe or gender.”

“We will overcome these challenges that we are currently faced with. We need to pray hard so that we switch from hatred to peace as we continue to seek true justice for those who have been lost in the conflict with fairness,” said Tombe.

Source: Radio Tamazuj

[JUBA, South Sudan] The President of the Republic of South Sudan, H. E. Salva Kiir Mayardit has issued a presidential order this Thursday declaring permanent ceasefire in the country. The order number 35 declaring permanent ceasefire after signing peace yesterday is seen as a sign of commitment from the government to implement peace.

In his order, the president said cession of hostilities is an important step for the implementation of compromise peace agreement.

According to the order, “SPLA forces should withdraw to their barracks. The SPLA forces should fire back only on defense when their positions are being attacked.”

The order instructs SPLA forces at frontlines to move back in to their barracks.  

President Kiir reaffirms his commitment to implement the compromise peace agreement. He said his commitment to peace is illustrated by declaring permanent ceasefire before 72 hours as recommended in the agreement.

Surprised news broke out on Saturday evening when the Vatican announced appointment of Bishop Michael Didi to replace Cardinal Zubeir Wako in Khartoum Archdiocese of Sudan. Since Bishop Didi is the first Nuba to be appointed in such position, many people demanded that he asks Khartoum government to bring peace in the Sudan.

A citizen, Achabi Nasir Achabi appreciates changes, but doubts whether the Sudan government would allow church work to be coordinated well in the SPLM-N areas. Mr Achabi appeals to the new Archbishop to build new Churches and Chapels in the Nuba Mountains to support spiritual work.

Another citizen, Chalu Hassan wants the new Church leader to talk about peace in the Nuba Mountains as many people are suffering due to the ongoing conflicts. Issa Abdallah Changiro views that if the newly appointed Archbishop Michael Didi works hand in hand with the other bishops of Sudan there would be good development and church work.

Another citizen, Hamar Alamin, says people are suffering in Sudan because of corruption, which needs attention from new Archbishop to tackle it. The citizens hope the in-coming Bishop of El Obeid Diocese, will continue with the pastoral and developmental activities like Bishop Gassis.

Source: CRN

THE Bishop of Maridi, South Sudan, the Rt Revd Justin Badi, has no doubt about the cause of the "hopeless and shameful" situation in which his countrymen find themselves.

"All the bad things are the products of the devil, whose aim is always to divide, destroy, and uplift self-will," he says.

Reading the accounts of the horror that stalks Unity state, it is hard not to conclude that something hellish has taken hold. Fighting flared up in the state in April when government forces (the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, SPLA), aided by militias, attacked villages from three fronts.

Among the Bishops, who lived through the 22-year civil war with the North, in which two million people died, there is little surprise at the turn of events.

"Not only were the South Sudanese traumatised and highly militarised: there was poor leadership and bad governance," the Bishop of Wau, the Rt Revd Moses Deng, says. He was himself detained and tortured during the last war. "So many South Sudanese knew that the country was heading in a wrong direction, but they did not know what to do."

"Many South Sudanese were born during the war, even our grandfathers," the Bishop of Renk, the Rt Revd Joseph Garang Atem, says "and though they may be traumatised, I also think that a lack of patriotism in the hearts of some South Sudanese is really the problem."

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[Juba, South Sudan] Twenty months war has weighty impact on lives of the people of South Sudan. Evidences of deteriorating services are widely experienced.  Properties and financial sector faced shocking indicators of collapse especially with banking sector sliding into almost unescapable fall, unless some mitigation steps are urgently taken.  Although the warring parties signed peace with implementation expected to start immediately, there is little hope for economic improvement.

USD accounts domiciled in South Sudan will not be allow for withdrawals in Kenya and Uganda by their counterpart associates. If withdrawals are allowed from these accounts, and if South Sudan banks from whose withdrawals were made are asked to settle their liabilities, these banks might not be able to settle their liabilities.

There is doubt on ability of the Central Bank of South Sudan (CBoSS) as provider of last resort to throw in the reserves, which might have been used up. As CBOSS seems not able to prop up the banks with their reserves, banks have decided to restrict outside transactions to avoid exposure.  If accounts domiciled in South Sudan are drawn in Kenya and Uganda to a tune of a $1m for example, it is expected that the bank with its cash including reserves at CBoSS will settle these liabilities with Kenya and Uganda. Ability to settle these liabilities is what is in doubt both at bank and  CBoSS level and that is why restriction has been placed as mitigation for the exposure.

Interbank transactions: Some vendors cannot deposit into their accounts checks given from a different bank. The CBoSS has no capacity to settle interbank transactions through a clearinghouse. Consequently, the banks have noted this and banks have responded by rejecting checks from other banks. There is no longer faith in clearing house. It can be said CBoSS has lost legitimacy if you like. To illustrate further, if you write a check from Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) to an entity or individual banking with CfC Stanbic for instantce, CfC Stanbic will not accept deposit of the check, as they have no faith in clearing house. Simply put, clearing house is collapsed.

Recently, Transfers and withdrawals of dollars have been restricted to $2000 and transfers $5000 respectively as the banks don not have capacity to settle large dollars liabilities.  At present, if you go to any of the commercial banks to withdraw from a USD account, you are restricted to USD 2000 and transfers out of SSD are restricted to USD 5000.

Who is directing these actions?

Most of these actions are done by individual banks as a response mechanism to emerging risks in the financial sector. These actions indicate serious loss of confidence in the Central Bank of South Sudan, and points to the beginning of banking crisis.  Many South Sudanese are looking at exchange rate like an isolated economic commodity but banking sector seems to be in a stern mess. If it does not collapse, perhaps larger part of public resources may be injected into it to rejuvenate the reserves - Public and Private.

What can we do?

Peace has just been signed. It is time for economic experts and cautious leaders on both side of SPLMs to swiftly workout mitigation steps before a complete collapse of the sector. A collapse will not be treated as SPLM -IG issue, it will eventually affect the whole nation. As such, if urgent steps are not considered immediately, South Sudan will face severe, long and heavy consequential impact on the economy. Therefore, we must work as country to save our economy.

Garang Atem is an independent economic commentator who lives in South Sudan. He holds B.A in Economic and MA - Economic Policy and Management from Moi University and University of Nairobi respectively. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Participants in the 2015 Agape International Political Camp have explored the concept of security and issued a call for a “pedagogy of and for peace” founded on justice.

Some fifty church pastors, activists, students, social workers, artists and teachers, representing diverse nations and backgrounds, joined the camp from 16 to 21 August at the Agape Centro Ecumenico in Prali, Italy. The centre, located in the Italian Alps, was hosted by the Waldensian Church in Italy, a member church of the World Council of Churches (WCC).

Dr Aruna Gnanadason, former WCC director for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation, was among the keynote speakers. She stressed the need for a “new language” to engage in peace efforts. She said it is important to “challenge the dominant discourse of profit, military control and distorted definitions of security” that to often stand in opposition to “the rights and dignity of people and of all of creation.”

“We must explore how we can challenge the new political language which promotes the abuse of power and the use of force in political, social and economic life,” said Gnanadason.

Reflections on empire and a global “war on terror” perpetrated in the name of promoting security were shared by Dr Corinna Mullins, who serves as research associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London and is a visiting assistant professor at the University of Tunis.

Mullins asked: “Security for whom?  Who is secured from whom? Who benefits?” She continued, “The current atmosphere of insecurity is very profitable. My government, the United States alone, allocates over 4 trillion US dollars a year to military expenditures.”

“Pedagogy of nonviolence cannot be learned in formal universities,” cautioned Daniele Taurino of the Movimento Nonviolento in Rome. “It is learned from our everyday engagement with the people around us, institutions and society at large,” he added.

The camp also produced a manifesto on the theme “Peace Pedagogy: Towards New Paradigms for People’s Security,” resonating with the WCC call for a Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace, as issued by the WCC Busan Assembly in 2013.

The manifesto reads: “From the standpoint of people and communities, genuine security may be articulated as the holding together of justice, peace and integrity of creation. Therefore, promoting people’s security entails protection against such threats as hunger, homelessness, joblessness, disease, violence in all its forms including against LGBT communities, and human-induced ecological disasters such as nuclear contamination and global warming.”

The statement concludes: “[I]t is essential to expound a pedagogy of and for peace in order to have the tools and the means to: challenge dominant narratives that rationalize and justify wars; resist violence and oppression in all forms; defend life; and advance social, economic and ecological justice which form the foundation of a genuine and lasting peace.”

Source: WCC

[IKOTOS, South Sudan]Three people are reported to have died of hunger in Ikotos County, Eastern Equatoria state. Among the three persons reported dead include a nursing mother who died early this week.

Speaking to media yesterday in his county, the County commissioner of Ikotos, Peter Lokeng, says one woman died shortly after delivering her baby because she had no food or porridge to feed on.

The commissioner said many people are starving because of food shortage, a situation created by a prolonged drought in the area. Adding that, the scores of people have fled their homes to neighboring Kenya as refugees.

The humanitarian situation is growing worse in South Sudan. Commissioner Lokeng appealed for humanitarian support from the national government and humanitarian agencies.

 

TMA (The Melbourne Anglican) and its Editor, Mr Roland Ashby, have been honoured with the Gutenberg Award, the highest annual honour of the Australasian Religious Press Association (ARPA).

The award, granted by ARPA President Mr Peter Bentley, was presented to Mr Ashby in Brisbane at the association's annual conference on 29 August. More than 80 denominational and ecumenical publications and publishers in Australia and New Zealand are members of ARPA.

It is a record third Gutenberg win for TMA, which also won the Gutenberg in 1998 and 2006. TMA's predecessor as Melbourne's diocesan newspaper, See, won the Gutenberg under Mr Ashby's predecessor, Mrs Angela Grutzner, in 1994.

Mr Ashby said TMA was "very much a team effort" and thanked staff members Mark Brolly, Emma Halgren, Beryl Rule, Ivan Smith, intern Chris Shearer and what he described as many wonderful collaborators over the years, who had all contributed to the breadth and depth of the paper. Read more on ACNS

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