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South Sudan Archbishop Dies; Remembered as Promoter of Peace

FILE - Archbishop Paulino Lukudu Loro leads a mass in Juba, South Sudan on Dec. 15, 2014.
FILE - Archbishop Paulino Lukudu Loro leads a mass in Juba, South Sudan on Dec. 15, 2014.

The retired Catholic archbishop of South Sudan, Paulino Lukudu Loro, died Monday in Nairobi at the age of 80. The archbishop served for 30 years and was hailed by many in South Sudan for his efforts to promote peace during the country's long civil war.

The Reverend Father Samuel Abe, spokesperson for the Catholic Archdiocese of Juba, said Archbishop Loro was rushed to Kenya’s capital last month when his condition started deteriorating.

“First of all, last Saturday he had a very severe stroke which affected his dying and so it escalated into instability of his blood pressure and today the pressure just went down, and it is the cause of the death; primarily it is the stroke on his head,” Abe said.

Abe said Loro’s death has left a great void, because he was a key player in advising political leaders on how to achieve peace in South Sudan.

“It’s very clear as a peacemaker, a man of peace, he always advises people to take the interest of the country above our personal and our individual interests," Abe said. "And so, his words are still I think in our minds, his words are still with us and it’s up to us to put all his endeavors (and) his initiatives into practice, especially the political leaders, (and) the religious leaders of this country.”

Abe said he wished Loro had witnessed peace in South Sudan before his death but noted that people are still fighting and still dying.

Eli Joseph, youth chairperson at St. Kizito Parish, said Loro played a significant peacemaking role among various factions during the years when South Sudan was fighting for its independence from Sudan.

During South Sudan’s more recent civil war, Simon Gore, youth coordinator at St. Theresa Cathedral, said he remembers Bishop Loro for his boldness in telling the truth to the warring leaders.

“The peace process, he was not favoring any side, when he feels that there is slowness in implementation, he approached both of the partners and aired out his voice, and the right thing that they should be doing in order for his flocks not to suffer,” Gore said.

Loro was appointed archbishop of Juba on February 19, 1983, and served in this office until his retirement last year.

Archbishop Stephen Ameyu announced a four-day mourning period due to Loro’s death. It is not clear when Loro will be buried.