Pope Francis is asking all people of goodwill to join him in a special Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace for the people of all war-torn nations.
And Deacon Jon Dal Din, director of Westminster’s Interfaith agency, is suggesting that Catholics could invite other Christian denominations and members of different religions to take part with them.
The Holy Father told crowds gathered in St Peter’s Square for the Sunday Angelus: “Faced with the tragic protracted situations of conflict in different parts of the world, I invite all the faithful to take part in a special Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace on February 23, the Friday of the First Week of Lent.
“I also invite non-Catholic and non-Christian brothers and sisters to join us this initiative in whatever ways they deem most appropriate.”
The Pope added: “Everyone, in their own conscience, before God, should ask: What can I do for peace? We certainly can pray, but not only this – each one of us can say concretely ‘no’ to violence in their own way. Because the victories obtained with violence are false victories while working for peace does everyone good!”
Deacon Dal Din said: “Pope Francis specifically asks members of other faiths to join in the initiative in any way they can.
“He highlights the vital role religions play in achieving and consolidating peace and urges members of other faith communities to take up the appeal and to join in ‘moments of prayer, fasting and reflection, according to their own traditions and in their own places of worship’.”
The pope said the prayers and fasting should be offered in a particular way for the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan
South Sudan has been hit by a prolonged civil war and humanitarian crisis. The DRC has been hit by unrest this month following the shooting of protesting pro-democracy churchgoers opposed to President Joseph Kabila.
Pope Francis also assured his closeness to the populations of Madagascar, which was recently hit by a strong cyclone, and prayed that they may be comforted and the supported by the Lord.