Vatican City, Feb 4, 2018 / 04:12 am
On Sunday Pope Francis announced that the Friday of the first full week of Lent would be a day of prayer and fasting for peace given the many ongoing conflicts throughout the world, particularly those in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan.
“Facing the tragic continuation of conflicts in different parts of the world, I invite all the faithful to a special day of prayer and fasting for peace Feb. 23, the Friday of the first week of Lent,” the Pope said Feb. 4.
He asked that the day be offered specifically for the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan and invited both non-Catholics and non-Christians to join “in the ways they deem most appropriate.”
“Our heavenly Father always listens to his children who cry out to him in pain and anguish,” he said, and made a “heartfelt appeal” for each one of us to “hear this cry and, each one according to their own conscience, before God, ask ourselves: 'What can I do to make peace?'”
While prayer is always an effective resolution, more can be done, Francis said, explaining that each person “can concretely say no to violence to the extent that it depends on him or herself. Because victories obtained with violence are false victories, while working for peace does good for all!”
The Pope's appeal, which he made during his Sunday Angelus address, comes just two months after a Nov. 23 prayer vigil for peace in the two countries.
With plans to visit South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo last year thwarted by ongoing conflict, Pope Francis organized the prayer vigil in order to pray for an end to war in the two countries and to ask for comfort for victims of the violence.
He had planned to visit South Sudan last fall alongside Anglican Primate Archbishop Joseph Welby for an ecumenical trip aimed at promoting peace in the conflict-ridden country. However, due to safety concerns, the visit was postponed until the situation on the ground stabilizes.