Bishop Edward Hiiboro Kussala of the diocese of Tombura- Yambio takes the defence of Kenyan missionary priest expelled by the government.
Excerpts from the statement:
“On his way from Rii-Yubu to Yambio, on 31st January, Rev. Fr. Githinji in the company of Fr. Fernando Aguirre and three Seminarians, were pursued and arrested about 70 km out of Tombura town. They were driven back to Tambura where they were detained and thereafter Fr. Githinji was issued an expulsion letter by the Tombura State authorities. Fr. Githinji, a Kenyan citizen with valid South Sudan’s stay permit, and Fr. Ferdinando, a Spanish citizen, also with valid travelling documents, both belong to the Community of St. Paul the Apostle’ Missionary Congregation. Fr. Fernando is the president of that community and he was on an administrative visit to Fr. Joseph at Ave Maria and St. Thomas parishes, where he then met this unfortunate situation”.
“Since St. Thomas parish borders the Central African Republic (RCA), with our agreement and cooperation with the diocese of Bangasou of RCA, we assigned to the Father also the pastoral services to Bambuti, a centre across the border. In the same spirit, Bangasou diocese reciprocates by taking pastoral care of our South Sudanese Christians deep inside RCA. This is a normal practice within the Catholic Church’s territorial jurisdictions, where each is called to attend to the need of refugees if it ever happens. Fr. Githinji has been doing these services for the last 08 years. In Rii-Yubu and on the way to the Bambuti’s (RCA) centre are South Sudan’s military posts which have seen the movements of the Father for these past years. We have never received a report related to any misconduct whatsoever that would tantamount to his deportation”.
“The manner in which Fr. Githinji, Fr. Fernando and the three Seminarians were handled was unlawful, and completely fell short in standard of any civilized and dignified nation”.
The bishop calls upon the government to revisit its decision and to allow Fr Githinji to return.
Fr Githinji was flown out of South Sudan after receiving the expulsion order.