POPE FRANCIS LEADS PRAYER FOR PEACE IN SOUTH SUDAN AND THE D. REPUBLIC OF CONGO
Pope Francis led a special prayer service in St Peter’s Basilica this Thursday 23 November, for the intention of peace in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
A good number of faithful and some members of other faith communities joined the Pope to pray for peace in the world and especially for these two African nations that have been so much affected by wars.
South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo were placed at the centre of the prayer for peace because both countries – which have enormous natural resources – have been plagued by wars, human rights violations and endemic corruption for a long time and are equally facing a huge humanitarian crisis.
In his homily the Holy Father thanked those who organized the prayer and said that he “had already decided to visit South Sudan, but it did not prove possible”. However, he went on, “we know that prayer is more important, because it is more powerful: prayer works by the power of God, for whom nothing is impossible”.
The Pope also said that “as Christians, we believe and know that peace is possible, because Jesus is risen. He gives us the Holy Spirit, whom we have invoked”. “The Lord is our peace”, he added.
Pope Francis then prayed so that the Lord “may comfort those women who are the victims of violence in war zones and throughout the world. 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.”
At the end of the prayer for peace Pope Francis blessed two statues of ‘Our Lady of Valme’ which will be sent to South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. “Valme”, is an invocation in Spanish to ask the heavenly Mother for assistance: ‘help us Mary and be our support’.
This prayer for peace was organized by ‘Solidarity with South Sudan’ together with the Justice and Peace Commission, International Union of Superiors General, Voices of Faith, Diocese of Rome and the Service of Documentation and Study on Global Mission (SEDOS).
POPE FRANCIS’ HOMILY FOR PRAYER SERVICE FOR PEACE
23 November 2017
This evening, in prayer, 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. I had already decided to visit South Sudan, but it did not prove possible. Yet we know that prayer is more important, because it is more powerful: prayer works by the power of God, for whom nothing is impossible.
For this reason, I offer heartfelt thanks to all those who planned this vigil and worked so hard to make it happen.
“The risen Christ invites us, alleluia!” These words of the song in Swahili accompanied the entrance procession, together with some images from the two countries for which we especially pray. As Christians, we believe and know that peace is possible, because Jesus is risen. He gives us the Holy Spirit, whom we have invoked.
As Saint Paul reminded us shortly ago, Jesus Christ “is our peace” (Eph 2:14). On the cross, he took upon himself all the evil of the world, including the sins that spawn and fuel wars: pride, greed, lust for power, lies… Jesus conquered all this by his resurrection. Appearing in the midst of his friends, he says: “Peace be with you (Jn 20:19.21.26). He repeats those same words to us this evening: “Peace be with you!”
Without you, Lord, our prayer would be in vain, and our hope for peace an illusion. But you are alive. You are at work for us and with us. You are our peace!
May the risen Lord break down the walls of hostility that today divide brothers and sisters, especially in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
May he comfort those women who are the victims of violence in war zones and throughout the world.
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. How hypocritical it is to deny the mass murder of women and children! Here war shows its most horrid face.
May the Lord help all the little ones and the poor of our world to continue to believe and trust that the kingdom of God is at hand, in our midst, and is “justice, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom 14:17). May he sustain all those who day by day strive to combat evil with good, and with words and deeds of fraternity, respect, encounter and solidarity.
May the Lord strengthen in government officials and all leaders a spirit which is noble, upright, steadfast and courageous in seeking peace through dialogue and negotiation.
May the Lord enable all of us to be peacemakers wherever we find ourselves, in our families, in school, at work, in the community, in every setting. “Let us wash the feet” of one another, in imitation of our Master and Lord. To him be glory and praise, now and forever. Amen
Photo credits: Associated Press