The General Secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), the Revd Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, has echoed calls from Pope Francis and Anglican leaders for this coming Friday (23 February) to be set aside as a day of prayer and fasting for peace, with a particular focus on the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan. The call was first made by Pope Francis in his Angelus address at the start of this month, and has been endorsed by senior Anglican leaders across the world. “Let us join in prayer and fasting, as part of the global ecumenical movement in light of the ongoing social-political tension, violence, and the suffering of the affected peoples in the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, he said.
“Lent is a time of repentance, fasting, and preparation for the coming of Easter. It is a time of reflection regarding the suffering, death, and resurrection of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ. It is also time for self-examination and reflection, for us to redirect and rededicate our attention and action, prayerfully, to the most crying needs in our society. Let us heed Pope Francis’s call to a day of prayer and fasting for peace in South Sudan the Democratic Republic of Congo.”
In a letter to WCC member churches, he said that “In the DRC, 4.3 million people are displaced throughout the country and 13.1 million people will be in need of humanitarian assistance throughout the country this year.
“In South Sudan, 2 million people have fled the young nation as refugees and about 1.9 million people are internally displaced, over the past four years of conflict – with 7 million people inside the country – that is almost two-thirds of the remaining population – still need humanitarian assistance.”
He said: “Children, young men, and women have been among the most affected. Millions of women and girls are exposed to gender-based violence in these crisis-affected areas.
“The churches and communities are dedicated and present in these communities, accompanying the affected people through these challenging times. We acknowledge the courageous and hopeful work that carries on each day to serve the people in need.
“May the prayers of all Christians on 23 February for the gift of peace be a sign of solidarity and closeness to those suffering in South Sudan and DRC.”
To support the day of prayer and fasting on Friday, the WCC has produced a set of prayers which can be used by individuals or in the context of corporate prayer and worship.