Embattled ECSS Jonglei archbishop resumes work

The embattled Archbishop of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan’s (ECSS) Jonglei Internal Province, Ruben Akurdit, arrived Saturday in Bor town where he resumed work months after his expulsion over security concerns.

The ECSS in Jonglei split in August 2020 when the Church’s Primate, Dr. Justin Badi Arama, defrocked Akurdit accusing him of canonical disobedience after the latter rejected his suspension over the unilateral creation of dioceses in the province a year earlier.

Akurdit rejected his defrocking and said it was nonprocedural and filed a lawsuit at the High Court in Juba to have Dr. Arama’s decision overturned, but the court last year dismissed the case, referring it to a church tribunal.

Tensions have since remained high, with Jonglei authorities expelling Bishop Akurdit and his Arama-appointed replacement, Bishop Moses Anur, along with other colleagues from Bor in January after an armed youth group loyal to Akurdit attacked the latter.

While addressing reporters at Bor’s St. Andrew Cathedral, Akurdit said he was assuming canonical duties Saturday because the dispute had been resolved.

“President Salva Kiir’s intervention to resolve the issue asked me to return to Bor and resume work as Archbishop of Jonglei Internal Province and Bishop of Bor Diocese,” he said. “The condition was that I apologize to Arama, which I did. Arama recognized the 3 dioceses I created and lifted my defrocking and that I shall serve for only 3 months from my resumption to unite the divided faithful and prepare for my retirement.”

The embattled Akurdit pointed out that he hoped the president’s intervention would restore unity in the ECSS in Jonglei.

“What will bring unity to the ECSS is the implementation of these resolutions by the president, but Justin Badi’s group seemed to have not been convinced,” he said. “So, my message to all the faithful is that we should now start working together despite differences and stop provocations.”

For his part, John Samuel Manyuon, the Jonglei State information minister, said they received communication from the presidency permitting Akurdit’s return to Bor.

“What we have also received as a government is a communication from the presidency that Akurdit has to come to Bor for certain things that he had already explained and agreed upon by the presidency,” he said.

Efforts by Radio Tamazuj to reach out to Justin Badi, Moses Anur, and Presidential Affairs Minister Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin were futile.

Source: Radio Tamazuj

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