Cablegate: Vatican: Bishops Must Be More Involved in Sudan

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.





E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: A. 03 VATICAN 5669


1. (SBU) In a meeting requested by the Holy See, Vatican
Foreign Minister Giovanni Lajolo told the Ambassador the
Sudanese Catholic bishops were in a position to play an
important role in the North-South peace process. In fact,
according to Lajolo, their participation in reconciliation
efforts and the reform of the constitutional and legal system
is crucial to the possibility of long-term success. Lajolo
expressed the Holy See's concern for the humanitarian crisis
in Darfur and the Church's desire to facilitate internally
displaced person (IDP) and refugee returns there and
elsewhere in Sudan. The Holy See hopes that a nudge from the
USG might prompt greater GOS openness to participation by the
Sudanese bishops in all these endeavors. End Summary.

--------------------------------------------- --------
Bishops Could be Crucial in North-South Peace Process
--------------------------------------------- --------

2. (SBU) In previous reporting on the Holy See and Sudan,
Post has noted the Vatican's desire that the Sudanese
Catholic bishops be involved in interreligious dialogue --
and its belief that they are in a position to play a
constructive role (reftels). In a February 17 meeting with
the Ambassador, Holy See Foreign Minister Giovanni Lajolo
again emphasized the potential usefulness of the Catholic
Church on the issue, noting that the Church could contribute
to a "reconciliation of the factions in the South." Lajolo
added a sense of urgency to the subject we had not heard
previously, underscored by the fact that he requested the
meeting with the Ambassador specifically to speak about
Sudan. He said the GOS was not consulting adequately with
the Sudanese bishops, who had been left out of the loop on
many issues. In particular, Lajolo said, the bishops should
be involved in the reform of Sudan's constitution and legal
system. In this, and other issues, a non-paper Lajolo passed
(complete text passed to EUR/WE) noted that "the Church must
be involved in the preparatory stages (of reform planning)."
Further, "special attention should be given to the question
of the juridical definition of the Church, which cannot be
understood as a NGO." According to Lajolo, these subjects
could have a significant impact on religious freedom issues.

Holy See Concerned About Darfur

3. (SBU) Lajolo emphasized the Holy See's concern about the
situation in Darfur, noting the humanitarian cost of the
conflict. Lajolo noted that there were few Christians in the
region, but said that factor did not diminish the Holy See's
attention to the human suffering in the area. The non-paper
stated that "humanitarian corridors" were no longer
sufficient to ease human suffering in Darfur, and that "the
parties, especially the Government of Khartoum, should be
persuaded to undertake peace initiatives."

--------------------------------------------- -----
Church Anxious to be Involved; Hopes for USG Nudge
--------------------------------------------- -----

4. (SBU) Ambassador noted the USG's commitment to peace in
Sudan and our agreement that the Darfur situation was serious
both from a humanitarian point of view and because of the
threat it posed to progress in the North-South peace process.
Lajolo told the Ambassador that while the Church's efforts
on behalf of peace and reconciliation would be most effective
in the North-South dispute rather than in Darfur, the Holy
See wanted to contribute to reconciliation in any way it
could. His memorandum noted that the Church "especially
desires to assist in the return of (IDPs and) refugees."
With the Holy See having already impressed upon the Sudanese

bishops and the GOS the importance of cooperation and
dialogue (reftels), the Vatican's contact with Post at the
ambassadorial level signals the Holy See's seriousness on the
issue, and its belief that a nudge from the USG might prompt
the GOS to be more open to participation by the Sudanese
bishops in these various endeavors.



2004VATICA00594 - Classification: UNCLASSIFIED

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