Pope: A day of prayer and fasting for peace on February 23
At the Angelus, Pope Francis invites Christians and all people of goodwill to pray for peace for the world and especially for the Democratic Republic of Congo and for South Sudan, afflicted by violent civil wars and millions of refugees. The question: "What can I do for peace?". "Victories gained through violence are false victories; while working for peace is good for everyone ". The miracles of Jesus and the awakening of faith in the people he meets. The streets are the place of the mission for the Church "under the sign of going out". The beatification of Teresio Olivelli, martyr in the concentration camp of Hersbruck. The Day for Life.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Pope Francis is calling Christians worldwide to hold a Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace on February 23 next, the first Friday of Lent. Speaking to the pilgrims gathered in St Peter's Square, after the recital of the Angelus, Francis explained his call motivated by "the tragic protracted situations of conflict in different parts of the world". The Day will be offered "in particular for the populations of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan".
In Congo (R.D), the refusal of President Joseph Kabila to resign at the end of his term in December sparked demonstrations, clashes and arrests and wars between militias and has created at least 4 million refugees.
In South Sudan there is a civil war in which the neighboring countries, Uganda and Kenya are not foreign. Here too, there are at least 2 million refugees.
"As on other similar occasions - added the pontiff - I also invite non-Catholic and non-Christian brothers and sisters to join this initiative in ways that they deem most appropriate". In the past, in September 2013, Pope Francis invited Christians and non-Christians from all over the world to unite for a prayer vigil for peace in Syria.
"May our heavenly Father - Francis explained - always listens to His children who cry out to him in pain and anguish," heal the broken hearts and band their wounds "(Psalm 147.3). I address a heartfelt appeal so that we too hear this cry and, each in ther own conscience, before God, ask ourselves: 'What can I do for peace?'. We can certainly pray; but not only: everyone can concretely say 'no' to violence as much as it depends on him or her. Because the victories obtained through violence are false victories; while working for peace is good for everyone! "
Previously, before the Marian prayer, Francis paused to comment on the Sunday Gospel (5th for year, B, Mark 1, 21-39), in which "the evangelist Mark emphasizes the relationship between Christ's miracles and the awakening of faith in the people he meets ".
"Mark brings out a general meaning of miracles: the healing of the body aims at healing of the heart. The episode thus contains an exhortation valid for every believer: once freed from the grips of evil and having regained their strength following Christ's intervention, we must follow the example of Peter's mother-in-law, who immediately put herself at the service of the Lord and other guests".
Speaking then of the crowd that gathered in front of the house where Jesus was staying, he added: "The crowd, marked by physical sufferings and spiritual miseries, constitutes, so to speak, 'the vital environment' in which the mission of Jesus is carried out, made up of words and gestures that heal and console. It is a humanity crossed by sufferings, labors and problems: the powerful, liberating and renewing action of Jesus is directed to this poor humanity ".
"The proclamation of the Kingdom of God by Jesus - he concluded - finds its most proper place in the streets. To the disciples who seek him out to bring him back to the city, He replies: "Let us go elsewhere, to the nearby villages, so that I may preach there also" (v. 38). This was the path of the Son of God and this will be the path of his disciples. The street, as a place of the joyful proclamation of the Gospel, places the mission of the Church under the sign of 'going out', of 'movement' and never of imobility".
After the Angelus, Francis recalled that yesterday, in Vigevano, the young Teresio Olivelli, killed for his Christian faith in the concentration camp of Hersbruck in 1945, was beatified. "He gave witness to Christ in his love for the weakest and joins the long line of martyrs of the last century. His heroic sacrifice is a seed of hope and fraternity especially for the young ".
The pontiff then joined the Italian bishops in today's celebration of the Day for Life, whose theme is "The Gospel of Life, Joy for the World". "I associate myself with the Message of the Italian Bishops - he said - and I express my appreciation and encouragement to the different ecclesial realities that in many ways promote and sustain life, especially the Movement for Life, whose supporters are present here and whom I greet", "Not so numerous in a world where weapons are built and where the culture of waste is dominant".