The South Sudan bishop who was shot is eager to return back after six operations.
Rome -Christian Carlassare says he is making excellent progress in his rehabilitation almost three months after being wounded shortly after being appointed as the new Bishop of Rumbek in South Sudan. He wants to return to his diocese “as soon as feasible.”
Carlassare recently said in an interview with the Italian news agency Fides that he had “no reservations about my desire to return to my South Sudan; people are waiting for me, and, despite the many difficulties, there is also tremendous optimism, which I want to be a part of.”
Carlassare, a 43-year-old Italian Comboni missionary, was named bishop of Rumbek, South Sudan, in March. He arrived in early April and had not yet been consecrated a bishop when he was wounded in the legs on April 26, just after midnight, by two armed men who stormed into the bishop-home. elect’s
He survived the attack but sustained considerable blood loss, necessitating his transportation to a Nairobi hospital for a transfusion. He was subsequently flown to Italy, where he has been able to complete his recuperation. His episcopal consecration was originally planned for May 23, but has been postponed pending the outcome of the inquiry into his assault.
Carlassare recalled the assault as a “dramatic moment” in which he was forced to place himself in God’s hands, “thinking that my job would stop there.”
“This gave me freedom and the knowledge that our testimony is genuine when we are loyal to the Gospel until the end, in our everyday fidelity,” he said, adding that he was confined to bedrest and unable to move for the first three weeks of his recuperation.
Carlassare had six separate operations in Nairbobi after an initial “bandage surgery” in Rumbek to halt blood loss. He started walking on crutches a few weeks ago and reports that his health is improving.
Carlassare claimed he is now residing in his hometown of Vicenza, northeast of Italy, and is walking without crutches but must do specific exercises as part of his lengthy rehabilitation.
“At the moment, I am in a state of tremendous serenity and inner freedom, yearning to return as soon as possible,” he said.
South Sudanese authorities are still on the lookout for the perpetrators of the assault, which authorities think was racially motivated considering Carlassare’s history.
Carlassare, a missionary who spent his whole priestly career in South Sudan, worked closely with the Nuer tribe for ten years before to his assignment to Rumbek, a region dominated by the Dinka tribe, which is the Nuer’s traditional sworn enemy. As word of the shooting spread, many observers believed racial tensions may have been a factor.
Following the assault, which garnered criticism from South Sudanese President Salva Kiir Mayardit, a large number of people were arrested, including many who worked in and for the diocese.
Carlassare stated that while nothing is official at this point, six members of the same family remain imprisoned in connection with the attack and have been transferred from Rumbek to the South Sudanese capital of Juba, which Carlassare described as “a clear sign that the case is being transferred to the capital’s court.”
Most likely, the family “acted in the interests of the clan, which most likely objected to my nomination,” he claimed, but added that the assault “benefited no one.”
Noting that those responsible for the assault are thought to be Catholics, Carlassare said that any family that resorts to violence to further their own goals “are armed people who have decided to do these crimes,” regardless of whether they are Christians or members of other religions.
“In the end, they engendered widespread resentment among the majority of the population, while there has been a genuine outpouring of solidarity toward me, both from the people of Rumbek and the South Sudanese in Kenya,” Carlassare explained, noting that he received numerous visits from South Sudanese during his stay in Nairobi.
This, he said, was a “really good response that inspires optimism that the populace would unite against senseless violence.”
Carlassare highlighted that numerous diocesan appointments were made while his absence and expressed trust in those charged with managing the diocese during his recuperation.
“I have done all I can for my health, and I believe I can return as soon as possible,” he added, emphasising the significance of concluding his case “and, perhaps more importantly, that the diocese has an internal road of regeneration to ensure safety and the ability to function and make decisions.”
He also expressed optimism for more healing and peace in South Sudan as a nation, which is commemorating its tenth year of independence in 2011 despite years of war, strife, and a huge humanitarian crisis that has cost thousands of lives and displaced millions.
Noting that a peace deal reached in 2018 seems to be holding, despite the fact that parties are still battling to properly execute it, Carlassare said that “it is a tremendous hope for South Sudan and helps us put the nation into perspective.”
Peace, he said, “is always precarious; it is constantly susceptible to constraints and violent circumstances that undermine it.” It is a lengthy trip that must be undertaken without fear of how far it may lead us.
With reports of continuing local confrontations, many of which are based in land and tribal issues, Carlassare said that people “must be taught to live together” while the government “must demonstrate that it works for security.”