Pope Francis invites us to join him on Friday, February 23 to observe a Day of Prayer and Fasting for peace in war-torn countries, particularly South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Reflecting on the suffering caused by conflict, Pope Francis said, “Our heavenly Father always listens to his children who cry out to him in pain and anguish; ‘he heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds’ (Psalm 147:3). I launch a heartfelt appeal that we too may listen to this cry and each, according to his or her own conscience before God, can ask: ‘What can I do for peace?’”
What can you do for peace? Find three ways to respond here.
After four tragic years of civil war and seven failed peace agreements, conflict continues in South Sudan. Fighting has taken the lives of tens of thousands and led to near-starvation conditions for about five million people. Some four million people have been forced from their homes. The civil war has crippled the country’s society and economy. Seventy percent of school-age children have no access to education.
Since gaining independence in 1960, the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo have never known a period of peaceful, democratic rule in which human rights are respected and government promotes its citizen’s common good. The country’s name expresses the desires of its people. Instead, the reality has been fraught with corruption, fraud, and brutality. The truth of the statement “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” is in evidence in the DRC.
Two hundred Assumptionists (professed and in formation) serve in the DRC in schools, parishes, hospitals, orphanages, job training centers, and formation communities. Three of these Assumptionists (Fathers Jean-Pierre, Anselme, and Edmond) were kidnapped in 2012 and have not been heard from since. One Assumptionist priest, Father Vincent Machozi, was murdered for his efforts on behalf of peace and justice in the DRC in 2016.
Who are the Assumptionists?
Founded by Venerable Emmanuel d’Alzon (1810–1880), whose great passion was to see Jesus loved by every man and woman, the Assumptionists carry on this work throughout the world today. The Congregation of the Augustinians of the Assumption (Assumptionists) sponsors the work of Bayard, Inc., the parent company of Pflaum Publishing Group. From their roots in France, the Assumptionists have taken their mission to over 30 countries, working in service of the Kingdom of God.
Image credit: assumptio.org