A Catholic bishop-elect recovering from gunshot wounds has said in a video that he is offering up his pain with the hope that God will purify his diocese in South Sudan.
In a message recorded by ACI Africa, CNA’s African news partner, Bishop-elect Christian Carlassare said that he was imploring God for an end to “violence, division, [and] selfish desires” in the diocese of Rumbek, which Pope Francis appointed him to lead on March 8.
Speaking from his hospital bed in Kenya, he said: “I bend low in front of God to intercede for the church of Rumbek. I pray for the conversion of sinners.”
“I offer the pain I’m going through so that the Lord our God may purify the church of Rumbek from all errors and things like these may happen no more; no room for violence, division, [and] selfish desires that come from the devil.”
Carlassare was shot in both legs when two armed men fired multiple bullets at him after breaking into his room at the priests’ residence at Holy Family Cathedral in Rumbek in the early hours of April 26. He was later airlifted to the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, for specialized treatment.
In the five-minute video recorded May 3, the Italian-born member of the Comboni Missionaries said: “Let me be a sign for all of you. As I will rise from this bed and walk again, let Rumbek also rise again, and walk the way of peace and unity.”
He said that he had accepted the Pope’s appointment to the diocese, created in 1974, because of his love for the South Sudanese mission.
When Carlassare was named bishop of Rumbek in March, nearly 10 years after the death of the diocese’s last bishop, he described his appointment as an illustration of “the God of surprises.”
“Pope Francis and the College of Bishops send me to you, people of Rumbek, for this mission: to make the Church one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic; and I will accomplish this mission with all my heart for the love of you, and the love of South Sudan,” he said in the video.
He encouraged Catholics in Rumbek to work for “a church that is one, which means united; that is holy, which means gospel-like, that makes people to be holy; Catholic, which means that it embraces everyone no matter the clan, the tribe, or the skin color; and apostolic, which means that it comes to us from Jesus through the pope and the bishops.”
He thanked “all Christians around the world that have been praying for me and are giving me so much courage and trust in the Lord,” as well as the bishops of South Sudan and Sudan.
“It has been a painful week because my legs have been in pain almost all the time. I went through three surgeries,” he said, noting that it was also “a week in which I experienced the closeness of many people, especially the doctors, but also many South Sudanese and friends from all over the world that sent their sympathies and solidarity.”