During a time of civil unrest, and taking a cue from Pope Francis, the Catholic bishops of Angola have dedicated their country to the protection of St. Joseph.

According to Vatican News, the bishops said they hoped St. Joseph would help protect the country and help to alleviate the “economic and social suffocation” from which their people were suffering.

The announcement comes just days after Pope Francis announced a Year of St. Joseph, in honor of the 150th anniversary of the saint’s proclamation as patron of the Universal Church.

During the past few months, hundreds of Angolans have been arrested during violent protests in the capital city of Luanda. According to the BBC, the demonstrators were protesting government corruption, including elections that have been delayed, in part due to the coronavirus pandemic. The country still faces many problems after a civil war ravaged the country from 1975-2002.

People were also protesting against the high cost of living, rising unemployment and police brutality. Over the summer, Angolan security forces killed at least seven teenagers for violating COVID-19 restrictions, the BBC reported.

The bishops lamented the “dire” situation in their country, in which they said many people are unable to feed their families. The bishops called for dialogue and policies “as the best way forward given the sensitivities in society and with the aim of avoiding all sensationalism currently generating uncertainty, fear and insecurity (in the nation),” Vatican News reported.

They also called on their people to continue following coronavirus guidelines and precautions in order to curb the spread of the virus.