The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has urged Catholics to join Pope Francis Feb. 23 in a Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace for the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.
“Let us answer the Holy Father’s call to pray and fast for peace, especially for the Church and peoples of South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” said Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the USCCB.
“And let us turn our fasting into almsgiving and support the work of Catholic Relief Services in both countries.”
Both countries have suffered corruption, violent ethnic clashes, and poor economic conditions. Reflecting on those affected by the violence, Pope Francis encouraged individuals to ask how they may be able to promote peace.
“I make a heartfelt appeal so that we also listen to this cry and, each one of us in his/her own conscience before God, ask ourselves, ‘What can I do for peace?’” said Pope Francis.
In preparation of day of prayer, the USCCB has listed three means Catholics may promote peace — to learn, pray, and share.
“Tragically, violent conflict rages in both nations. South Sudan won its independence in 2011 only to find itself a victim to corruption and a bloody civil war. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the government fails to honor the constitution as the Catholic Church courageously promotes a peaceful resolution of the conflict between the ruling and opposition parties. In both countries, innocent families suffer,” said Cardinal DiNardo.
Additionally, the bishops asked Catholics to share the message of peace by hosting community prayers at local parishes, educating others about the conflict by means of social media, and donating to charities such as Catholic Relief Services.