By: Murcadha O Flaherty
A Sudanese bishop has welcomed the Holy Father's call to pray and fast for peace in South Sudan and Democratic Republic Congo (DRC) tomorrow. (Friday, 23 February).
Auxiliary Bishop Daniel Adwok of Khartoum said "terror reigns" in neighbouring South Sudan. He told Aid to the Church in Need: "The war in South Sudan has created mass displacements in many parts of the land… the destruction of the family fabric and loss of respect for human dignity."
"Terror reigns in South Sudan, with warriors, government and politicians grappling for power, positions and not minding the fate of the ordinary Southern Sudanese.
"The fact that until today no one knows - the government itself does not know - how many people died in South Sudan since the start of the war in December 2013 is indicative of how the value of the human person has become of no worth in South Sudan.
"No one keeps count and it looks as if those who died of violence, some of hunger and other mistreatments were 'unfortunate' - [as if] they were in the wrong place at the wrong time."
Referring to attackers targeting vulnerable groups in society, he said: "I know of some elderly people who could not physically run away from their homes but still met their death in the same home killed by people carrying arms."
In his message for Lent, Pope Francis said: "I renew my call for all people to commit themselves to avoiding all forms of violence. Faced with the tragic protracted situations of conflict in different parts of the world, I invite all the faithful to take part in a special day of prayer and fasting for peace."
As well bringing attention to the situation in South Sudan, Pope Francis highlighted difficulties in DRC, where Christians have been protesting President's Joseph Kabila's failure to step down after his constitutional term of office expired in December 2016.
DRC security forces killed at least four people and injured several others in attacks on more than 130 churches around the country last month, including an unprovoked attack in the grounds of St Dominic's Church, Linete where a policeman shot Father Jean Nkongolo in the face with a rubber bullet.
Supporting Pope Francis' request, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue statement called for other faiths to consider holding "moments of prayer, fasting and reflection, according to their own traditions and in their own places of worship".
In 2017 ACN's support for the DRC included supporting 1,229 seminarians in 41 seminaries as well as providing yearly spiritual retreats for priests because of extreme psychological pressures. Projects in South Sudan included Mass stipends and training for 21 seminarians in Tombura-Yambio Diocese.
See Pax Christi resources for the day: www.indcatholicnews.com/news/34362