On Friday, 23 February 2018, as we journey through this prayerful Season of Lent, the Holy Father, Pope Francis who is deeply concerned for the victims of war, invites us to observe a Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace and an “end to violence and conflict, especially in South Sudan and in the Democratic Republic of Congo”.
The Bishops of England and Wales call on all Catholics to respond to this request for prayer and fasting and to extend this invitation to non-Catholics, and non-Christians, to join us in this initiative.
For the day of prayer, we are encouraged to remember the victims of conflict in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo who yearn for peace. They long for the guns and weapons of war to fall silent – for an end to violence and disruption in their lives.
They long for security, protection and a lasting peace.
Pope Francis asks: “What can I do for peace?.. Surely, we can pray”
In our prayer and fasting, let us be encouraged to pray for an end to the supply of arms and ammunition by architects and beneficiaries from warfare.
Here’s a prayer you can pray with us on 23 February keeping in mind, particularly, the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.
A Prayer for World Peace (1978)
Lord, we pray for the power to be gentle; the strength to be forgiving; the patience to be understanding; and the endurance to accept the consequences of holding to what we believe to be right.
May we put our trust in the power of good to overcome evil and the power of love to overcome hatred.
We pray for the vision to see and the faith to believe in a world emancipated from violence, a new world where fear shall no longer lead men to commit injustice, nor selfishness make them bring suffering to others.
Help us to devote our whole life and thought and energy to the task of making peace, praying always for the inspiration and the power to fulfil the destiny for which we and all men were created.
Find more prayers here.
Pope Francis gave an address in Assisi on 20 September 2016. This excerpt can help us focus on what it means to work together for peace. Read more.
The Liturgy Office for England and Wales has a useful PDF, available for download, on prayerful fasting.
Cardinal Nichols has written to the President of the Conférence Episcopale Nationale du Congo (CENCO) – Archbishop of Kisangani, the Most Reverend Marcel Utembi Tapa.
In the letter he expresses the fraternal concern and solidarity of the Bishops of England and Wales for the people of Congo as well as their brother bishops in the country.
“The witness you and your people give is not only to democracy, but to the very fundamental human rights of freedom and dignity of the person that underpins all our Catholic teaching; your prophetic voice must be heard by all, within the Democratic Republic of the Congo and beyond.”
The Catholic Bishops of South Sudan have issued a statement marking the day: “The killing must stop immediately. We must let the guns fall to the ground in order to free our hands so that we can embrace each other.”
Pax Christi, the Church’s international Catholic movement for peace, supports communities in their peacemaking efforts and shines a light on the things that deny peace and fuel conflict: the global arms trade, the manufacture of fear and mistrust, the scapegoating of the ‘other’.
CAFOD, the Church’s agency for overseas aid and development has a program in South Sudan.
CAFOD also works in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).