VATICAN CITY NOVEMBER 24, 2017 (CISA) –Pope Francis on November 23 presided at a special prayer service for peace in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo where he prayed for the victims of war in those countries.
During the service, Pope Francis decried the murder of innocent women and children as the “horrid face” of war.
“How hypocritical it is to deny the mass murder of women and children! Here war shows its most horrid face,” said the Pope in his brief homily adding, “May he protect children who suffer from conflicts in which they have no part, but which rob them of their childhood and at times of life itself.”
Pope Francis asked God to “break down the walls of hostility that today divide brothers and sisters, especially in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.”
“We want to sow seeds of peace in the lands of South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and in all lands devastated by war,” he added.
Pope Francis had planned to visit South Sudan this fall alongside Anglican Primate Archbishop Joseph Welby for an ecumenical trip aimed at promoting peace in the conflict-ridden country.
However, due to safety concerns, the visit was postponed until the situation on the ground stabilizes.
South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011 after protracted bloodshed, then fell into civil war in late 2013, with troops loyal to President Salva Kiir fighting those backing Riek Machar, a former vice President Kiir had sacked. Both sides have targeted civilians, human rights groups say.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, dozens of people have died in protests against President Joseph Kabila’s refusal to step down at the end of his constitutional mandate last December.
Unrest sparked by the uncertainty surrounding the polls has raised fears Congo could witness a repeat of the kind of violence that killed millions around the turn of the last century, mostly from hunger and disease.