Christianity is by far the most persecuted religion worldwide. Over 100 million Christians today suffer violent oppression and expulsion. In the international league tables of the persecution and extermination of Christians, Sudan is one of the worst offenders.

According to Article 5 of the Constitution the Islamic sharia law is the source of all legislation and jurisprudence in Sudan. All religious minorities, and in particular Christians, are at the mercy of the arbitrary rule of this Islamist regime. Any church buildings or other properties deemed to be not in use can at any time be expropriated by the state.

And at the same time no permits are being granted for new church buildings. Christian communities and their priests are under constant surveillance by the secret police. Even the teaching of religion and the catechism is overshadowed by the arbitrary actions of the authorities, and for the Catholic priests a sense of vulnerability and fear are constant companions.

In such a climate it is essential for these Christians to be able to feel the solidarity of other Christians worldwide – and still more a sense of communion among themselves. The priests of the 27 parishes in the Archdiocese of Khartoum also need a place where they can meet together safely, speak openly and share their thoughts and feelings about their work, their pastoral hopes, successes and problems.

They need a place where they can seek counsel, an open welcome, sympathy and understanding. A house where they can pray, reflect and plan, deepen their theological understanding and discuss their pastoral practice. In short, they need a house of prayer, a house of spiritual and psychological repose and recovery.

This house exists in fact. Priests come here both from Sudan and from the now independent South Sudan. It is a house of unity. But it is also old and derelict, with cracks in the walls, a leaking roof and ill-fitting doors that testify to its constant use and its need for urgent repair. Fortunately, a permit is not required for this work, only money. We have promised to help so that this oasis of love, unity and recuperation in a hostile environment can continue to do  its work.

This article can be found in Mirror 0316.