Prayer for peace in Congo, South Sudan a call to action, cardinal says

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis’ call for a day of prayer
and fasting for peace in war-torn countries like South Sudan and Congo is also
a reminder for world leaders to protect their countrymen from violence and
injustice, a Vatican official said.

In an article for L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, Cardinal Peter
Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development,
said leaders have “the duty of securing a peaceful life for their fellow

“We will ask the Lord to tear down the walls of enmity
and strengthen the will of government leaders to look for peaceful solutions
through dialogue and secure negotiations,” the cardinal wrote in the
article, published Feb. 22.

early February, Pope Francis had called for a day of prayer and fasting
for peace Feb. 23, with special prayers for Congo and South Sudan.

“Our heavenly Father always listens to his children who cry out
to him in pain and anguish; he heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their
wounds,” the pope had

involving government troops, rebel forces and militias continues in Congo, especially
in the East, but tensions also have erupted as protests grow against President
Joseph Kabila, whose term of office ended in 2016. New elections have yet to be

Expressing sadness over the violent deaths of peaceful
protestors, Cardinal Turkson said the international community has “the responsibility
of guaranteeing a nonviolent
transition toward a new presidency in Congo.”

He also highlighted the need for action in South Sudan,
which became independent from Sudan in 2011 after decades of war. But, just two
years after independence, political tensions erupted into violence.

Noting that the situation was so dire that Pope Francis was
forced to cancel a planned visit in 2017, the cardinal said action was needed
to aid refugees and displaced people “who represent one-fourth of the

too, are men and
women, children, young and old who are looking for a place to live in peace,”
the cardinal said.

Cardinal Turkson said the pope’s call for a day of prayer
“once again shows his care for the universal church and its closeness to the people who suffer
most,” as well
as a way bring attention to those forgotten by the world.

The day of prayer and fasting is just the latest initiative
of Pope Francis “to draw the attention of the international community to extremely painful
situations of violence that do not find adequate coverage in the media,”
the cardinal said.

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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