By Cian Molloy - 25 February, 2018
The faithful in Ireland are being asked to pray for peace in the Congo and in South Sudan and in all countries afflicted by war and conflict, as part of an initiative being led by Archbishop Kieran O’Reilly of Cashel and Emly.
The Archbishop’s initiative is a response to Pope Francis’s call earlier in the week for last Friday to be a Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace in both the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.
Archbishop O’Reilly who is a member of the Society of African Missions (SMA), noted the huge numbers of people are being affected by the wars in the two African countries. “More than four million people have been displaced from their homes in the ongoing conflict in South Sudan, our world’s youngest nation. A further three million people have been displaced by conflict in the neighbouring Congo. This lasting violence and division has only served to exacerbate the effects of the drought and hunger crisis gripping the region.”
The South Sudanese Civil War broke out in 2013, and is believed to have so far, caused the death of some 300,000 people. There is no sign of a resolution anytime soon with fighting continuing between South Sudanese government forces, bolstered by Ugandan troops, and the rebel forces of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement. The situation is further complicated by the fact that Sudan, to the north, has seized some of South Sudan’s territories.
The conflict in the Congo is the result of last ditch efforts by rebel groups left over from a devastating war that started in 1994 and officially ended in 2003. Because of its high death toll, with some five million people killed, the war is sometimes called ‘Africa’s First World War’.
The Archbishop, who served as a missionary in Liberia and Nigeria, noted that in his appeal Pope Francis has invited all of us to ask ourselves ‘What can I do for peace?’
“Jesus Christ has given dignity and worth to each and every human being. We must make peace and justice the cornerstone of our lives to ensure that dignity for all,” said the Archbishop responding to that question and adding, “I am grateful for the work of Trócaire and the many Irish missionaries who minister to promote peace and support those affected by conflict.
“Today, and at Masses this weekend, I invite the faithful to pray for the people of the Congo, South Sudan and all those across the world who face the violent realities of war each day that they may find peace, safety and love.”