Yesterday Pope Francis joined a prayer service in Rome organised by “Solidarity with South Sudan” and the Justice and Peace office of male and female religious organisations worldwide. The prayers were for peace and justice for the peoples of South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Pope Francis had intended to make a pastoral visit to South Sudan together with Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury this year. This had to be postponed because of the violence and danger there. The president and the vice –President are in armed conflict backed by their respective ethnic groups. It is reckoned that about half of the population of 12 million, is suffering from severe hunger and millions have fled to neighbouring countries. Over 1,000,000 refugees have been welcomed in Uganda alone.
As for the DRC, Pope Francis has expressed a desire to visit this huge, immensely rich but divided country where militias of various kinds rampage raping, killing and forcing children to become child-soldiers. President Kabila was expected to hold elections in 2015, but despite several interventions and appeals by the Catholic Bishops Conference of Congo to adhere to the promises, no elections will be held in 2017 and it seems that the earliest free elections are envisaged as possible will be 2019. Meanwhile the killings, rapes etc., continue. Pope Francis will not visit the country until the promised elections take place.
Yesterday, in St Peter’s Basilica in Rome the Pope expressed his belief in the importance and efficacy of prayer, but it is certain that he also desires to visit both South Sudan and Congo in person.
Perhaps some of our readers would like to take on these prayer intentions “Peace in South Sudan and/or Congo.” Just a short prayer regularly, every day for the millions of men, women and children suffering because of the greed and arrogance of others. Human solidarity!