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Cardinal Michael Czerny blesses a new boat in South Sudan on February 9 (Vatican Media.)

Facing the troubled waters of a conflict in South Sudan that’s left half the country’s children as refugees, a Vatican cardinal blessed a boat named for the country’s best-known Catholic saint, praying that it will leave “the storm of conflict, violence, hatred, and vengeance behind”. Source: Crux.

Canadian Cardinal Michael Czerny christened the new boat, named for St Josephine Bakhita, at the conclusion of his February 2-9 visit to the world’s newest country. It’s a wooden and iron boat will be used by the local Caritas organisation to transport refugees from adjacent Sudan.

“It will be a boat that leaves the storm of conflict, violence, hatred, and vengeance behind, and sails on more peaceful waters where people can live together as brothers and sisters,” Cardinal Czerny said.

South Sudan gained independence in 2011 after a brutal and deadly civil war, but just two years later, in 2013, conflict broke out in the new country, leading to a complex and dangerous situation of armed conflict, economic decline, disease and hunger.

To date, estimates are the conflict has forced 2.3 million people to flee to neighbouring countries, with an additional 2.22 million people who remain internally displaced. The UN says it is the largest refugee crisis in Africa and the third-largest refugee crisis in the world.

Most recently, a 10-month battle that has ravaged that country also has resulted in a massive humanitarian emergency.

Cardinal Czerny, Prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, didn’t lose the opportunity during his visit to South Sudan to talk about resilience and hope in the face of adversity – the same resilience he said was exhibited by St Bakhita.

As he celebrated Mass on February 8 to mark the World Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking, Cardinal Czerny said St Bakhita’s story is “a story of hope, from captivity and slavery to eventually learning of God in a convent of sisters”.


Vatican cardinal extols humanity as alternative to carnage in South Sudan (By Ngala Killian Chimtom, Crux)