The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is backing Pope Francis’ call for tomorrow (Friday, 23 February) to be set aside as a day of prayer and fasting for South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Backing the Pope’s call, which has been endorsed by Anglican leaders around the globe, Archbishop Justin Welby said: “Tomorrow, Pope Francis is calling for a day of fasting and prayer for the people of South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo. He is inviting non-Catholic brothers and sisters to join him. I support this call and invite you to join us – and people around the world – in praying that these terribly suffering populations will know peace.
“On my visits to both countries in recent years, it’s been impossible to describe the overwhelming scale of destruction. These conflicts are causing terrible loss of life. Huge numbers of people have been forced to flee their homes, which is tearing apart families and communities.
“There are more than a million new internally displaced people. Famine is causing great suffering and danger. In South Sudan, up to six million people face starvation. Sexual violence and humiliation are being committed on the most atrocious scale in both countries.”
Recalling his last visit to South Sudan, Archbishop Justin said: “I listened to a political leader tell me about the suffering and slaughter of her people. I visited a refugee camp in Uganda filled with South Sudanese children whose families had fled their homes to escape death.
“We are called to pray fervently for the millions of people who simply cannot take any more of this war.”
He offered four pointers for people who wanted to pray but who were unsure how:
- For the leaders of South Sudan and DRC to turn their hearts from war to peace – and a peaceful solution to political problems.
- For all refugees from these countries.
- For forgiveness, healing and new relationships.
- For the local churches doing so much to look after people who are suffering, and to bring peace.
He continued: “In the words of the acting Anglican primate of South Sudan, Archbishop Peter Munde Yacoub: ‘Jesus says if we pray faithfully, the mountains can fall into the sea. We have mountains in front of us: the evil war and the killing of innocent people. Pray that Almighty God will remove this evil war and bring us peace, and remove the suffering of South Sudanese people.’
“As the Pope says, our heavenly Father always listens to His children who cry to Him in pain and in anguish. ‘He heals the broken hearted and binds their wounds’ (Psalm 147, 3).
“The Pope is asking that we also hear this cry – and that each of us, before God, asks ourselves: ‘What can I do for peace?’”
He continued: “Please make some time tomorrow to pray, and to fast in some way if you can.
“Let’s get behind the Pope’s appeal and come together as one united body of Christ to pray for our sisters and brothers in South Sudan and DRC. Almighty God, bring peace.”