VATICAN CITY FEBRUARY 21, 2017 (CISA)-Pope Francis has urged leaders of the Democratic Republic of Congo to act quickly to resolve its political crisis and curb violence.
In his Angelus address at St. Peters Square on February 19, the Pope sympathized with the victims of violence in Congo and condemned the use of child soldiers.
“We continue to hear news sadly of violent and brutal clashes in the Kansai-Central region of the Democratic Republic of Congo,” Pope Francis said.
“I strongly feel the pain of the victims, especially the many children ripped from their families and from schools to be used as soldiers,” he added.
The Pope made “urgent appeal” to “national authorities and the international community so that they take appropriate and prompt decisions” to end the violence.
He also urged prayers for victims of war and violence in other parts of Africa and across the world.
“Let us pray ardently for every heart hardened by hatred, that they might be converted to peace according to the will of God,” he concluded.
Violence has flared across the country in recent months including deadly confrontations in the Kasai-Oriental region with President Joseph Kabila rubbishing plans to step down.
His term ended in December 2016 but a deal brokered by the countries influential Catholic Church allows him to stay in office until late 2017 in tandem with transitional body and a new premier.
On February 17, a video emerged appearing to show DR Congo soldiers killing unarmed civilians in Kasai-Oriental, while on Saturday officials said militiamen from the country’s Nande ethnic group had killed 25 civilians in the country’s violence-torn east, most hacked to death with machetes.
Hundreds have died in central Congo in recent months and tens of thousands forced to flee as battles rages between security forces and militias.