Pope Francis has called on Catholics and all men and women of goodwill to join him in a special Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace and to say no to violence and conflict.
“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 on Feb. 23, the Friday of the First Week of Lent,” the pope told tens of thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Sunday Angelus.
“Everyone, in their own consciences, before God, should ask ‘what can I do for peace?’” he said.
“Surely, we can pray but not only: each one of us can say ‘no’ to violence in their own way, because victories obtained through violence are false victories, while working for peace benefits all,” Pope Francis said.
“I also invite non-Catholic and non-Christian brothers and sisters to join us in this initiative in whatever ways they deem most appropriate,” he said.
In his address to those gathered for his weekly blessing, the pope asked that prayers be offered especially to those suffering violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in South Sudan.
The Democratic Republic of Congo has recently witnessed violent police repression and shooting of protesting pro-democracy churchgoers opposed to President Joseph Kabila while South Sudan has been wracked by prolonged civil war.