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Pope sets day of prayer for peace in Africa

VATICAN (CNS): Pope Francis marked Italy’s Pro-Life Sunday during his Sunday Angelus on February 4, and also called for a day of prayer and fasting for peace in Africa.
Some 20,000 people gathered in St. Peter’s Square with many carrying the pro-life movement’s green balloons with the message, Yes to life.
Thanking all the “different Church realities that promote and support life in many ways,” Pope Francis said he was surprised there were not more people involved.
“This worries me,” the pope said, adding, “There aren’t many who fight on behalf of life in a world where, every day, more weapons are made; where, every day, more laws against life are passed; where, every day, this throwaway culture expands, throwing away what isn’t useful, what is bothersome” to too many people.
Pope Francis asked for prayers that more people would become aware of the need to defend human life “in this moment of destruction and of throwing away humanity.”
Turning to Africa, the pope said it was time for a special day of prayer and fasting for peace and called for the observance to take place on February 23, a Friday in Lent. 
“Let us offer it particularly for the populations of the Democratic Republic of Congo and of South Sudan,” he said.
Fighting between government troops and rebel forces, and between militias continues in Congo, especially in the east, but tensions also have erupted as protests grow against the president, Joseph Kabila, whose term of office ended in 2016. 
New elections have yet to be scheduled.
South Sudan became independent from Sudan in 2011 after decades of war. But just two years after independence, political tensions erupted into violence.
Pope Francis asked “our non-Catholic and non-Christian brothers and sisters to join this initiative in the way they believe is most opportune.”
He prayed that “our heavenly Father would always listen to his children who cry to him in pain and anguish.”
The pope pointed out that people can do more than pray, and that each person can say no to violence in their daily lives and interactions. 
“Victories obtained with violence are false victories, while working for peace is good for everyone,” he said.

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