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Church, citizens mourn Bishop Paride

Church, citizens mourn Bishop Paride
Retired Bishop Emeritus Paride Taban | Credit | Courtesy

As condolences have poured in the social media platforms, faithful and South Sudanese at large have described the death of Bishop Paride Taban as a total loss to the church and the country.

The Catholic Bishops and the Catholic Church in South Sudan and Sudan announced the death of Bishop Paride Taban on Wednesday.

Bishop Paride had been unwell for some time and the Good Shepherd called him on the Solemnity of All the Saints.

His Lordship Emmanuel Bernadino Lowi, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Torit, says the death is sudden, and it has shocked everyone.

He acknowledged that the man of God had been instrumental both in the church and the society at large in promoting peace and reconciliation among warring communities.

“It is a great loss to all of us especially Diocese of Torit but of course he is a man of God, he has been so instrumental all this time not only in the Church but also in the society. He is a man of peace, the man of reconciliation-He did good to many,” he stated.

As part of his legacy, the late founded The Holy Trinity Village in Kuron of Kapoeta East County in Eastern Equatoria State.

According to bishop Emmanuel, Retired Bishop Emeritus Paride Taban participated a lot in the peace processes in South Sudan.

“He has done a lot especially this peace process, he was one of an understanding people. He was part of the Sudan council of churches. He participated in all groups while engaging and unifying people from different communities-He will be remembered for his contribution towards peace and reconciliation in the country,” bishop Emmanuel continued.

Meanwhile, South Sudanese around the world have praised Paride for his contributions during the civil war and after declaration of Independence in 2011.

“Bishop Paride mobilized the caring part of the world to avail health services, quality education, safe drinking water and food to the people in the Eastern Equatoria. When I came to Narus in 2004 as a fifth year engineering student on industrial training, I was shocked to find the quality of girls’ education that I did not expect would be found in South Sudan,” writes Dr Deng Diar on Facebook.

For his part, an Australia-based journalist Ajak Deng Chiengkou described the church leader as “selfless and courageous”.

He writes: “In the history of South Sudan, some individuals shine brighter due to their courageous and selfless acts for humanity. Among them, Bishop Parade Taban stands out prominently.”

Bishop Paride was due to receive a Noble Peace Prize for his tireless work for freedom and peace in South Sudan.

It is said that the American government was only waiting for his recovery.

Paride Taban was born in 1936. He was the first bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Torit in what was then Sudan from 1983 until 2004. In 1989, when the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) overtook Torit, he was arrested with three other Catholic priests by the SPLA. Until 1990 he and Nathanael Garang were the only two Bishops active in areas held by the SPLA.

After his retirement from the diocese, he led an effort to make peace in South Sudan real by setting up the Kuron Peace Village, established in 2005.

Before becoming bishop of Torit, Taban had been auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Juba and the titular bishop of Tadamata from 1980 to 1983. He was ordained on 24 May 1964 and consecrated a Bishop on 4 May 1980 in Kinshasa by Pope John Paul II.

Bishop Paride received numerous awards including the Sergio Vieira de Mello Peace Prize awarded by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in 2013 for his work at the Holy Trinity Peace Village in Kuron and the Hubert Walter Award for Reconciliation and Interfaith Cooperation awarded by the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby in 2017for co-founding the ecumenical New Sudan Council of Churches, building Kuron Peace Village.

He also chaired  the mediation initiative between the Government of South Sudan and COBRA Faction of the South Sudan Democratic Movement/Army led by David Yau Yau, which produced a successful peace agreement on 6 January 2014.

In December 2016, Taban was appointed by the President Salva Kiir Mayardit as a co-chair of the steering committee of National Dialogue.

Taban had witnessed the suffering of South Sudanese since he was young, and he was not happy to see south Sudanese suffering at the hands of their fellow southerners.