Pioneer of Ecumenism in South Sudan, Bishop Mons Paride Taban, dies

7 November 2023 • Persistent link:

We are sorry to report the sad news that Bishop Paride Taban, an ecumenical pioneer and courageous peace-builder, died on the feast of All Saints.

Bishop Taban was born in 1936 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1964 and to the episcopate in 1980, becoming an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Juba. In 1983 he became the first bishop of the diocese of Torit in which rule he served until retirement in 2004.

In 1989, when the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) overran Torit, Bishop Taban was arrested along with three other Catholic priests. However, he was able to continue to minister under rebel rule. In 1990 the Sudan Council of Churches was formed, with Bishop Taban becoming its first leader. The body was immediately involved in peace talks.

In the wake of the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, Bishop Taban was sent to support reconciliation efforts.

A year after his retirement, in 2005, Bishop Taban established the Holy Trinity Peace Village in Kuron. Bishop Taban was inspired by his experience of living briefly in an Israeli-Palestinian peace village. By listening to young men who felt they had no other option but to engage in fighting and cattle-raiding, the village was able to offer alternatives and now provides education and vocational training as well as sporting facilities. The village promotes the formation of peace committees to hear grievances, resolve differences and to restore justice when skirmishes do occur.

Bishop Taban was awarded the Sergio  Vieira de Mello Peace Prize from the UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon in 2013 and the Hubert Walter Award for Reconciliation and Interfaith Cooperation by Archbishop Justin Welby in 2017 in recognition for his tireless work in service of ecumenism and peacebuilding.