14-July-2004 -- Catholic World News Brief |

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SUDANESE BISHOP APPEALS FOR DARFUR

Khartoum, Jul. 14 (CWNews.com) - Sudanese Bishop Macram Max Gassis has issued an urgent appeal for peace in that country's Darfur region, where an escalating conflict has given rise to fears of a humanitarian catastrophe.

Bishop Gassis said that a lasting peace would require the warring parties to develop a level of mutual trust-- which is clearly lacking at the moment.

The conflict in Darfur today pits local militia groups against government forces. But the rebellion began when the black African people of Darfur charged that the Khartoum government was supporting Arab ethnic groups who launched attacks in the region, allegedly seeking to drive the black ethnic groups out of the region and into southern Sudan.

Bishop Gassis dismissed the reports that the conflict was partially based on religious conflicts, since Darfur has a small Christian population. The bishop noted that Christians are a tiny minority in the region, and the few Christians who do live there have migrated from southern Sudan.

However, the bishop also charged that the conflict in Darfur had been aggravated by the long-running civil war that matched the Khartoum government against the Sudanese People's Liberation Army (SPLA) based in the south of the country. Each side, he said, had used the conflict in Darfur to pursue its own strategic ends. With a peace treaty between Khartoum and the SPLA now believed imminent, the conflict in Darfur has become the country's most urgent crisis. In each case, the conflict involves a clash between the northern region of the country-- which is ethnically Arabic and religiously Muslim-- against the black Africans, Christian and pagan, of the west and south.

Bishop Gassis will appear live on this week's World Over with Raymond Arroyo--plus he will be taking your calls and emails. That's this Friday at 8:00pm ET only on EWTN.

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