Cardinal John Dew and Archbishop Philip Richardson have encouraged Kiwi Catholics and Anglicans to join them next Friday, February 23, in a day of prayer and fasting for peace, and especially for the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.
In so doing they are taking their cue from Pope Francis, who made a plea for an ecumenical day of prayer and fasting for peace on February 3 in St Peter's Square, after praying with thousands of pilgrims gathered there.
“We will offer this (day)," Pope Francis said, "in particular to the populations of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and of South Sudan.
“As on other similar occasions, I also invite non-Catholic and non-Christian brothers and sisters to participate in this initiative in the ways they consider most appropriate, but all together.
“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). I address a heartfelt appeal that we too hear this cry and, each person in his or her own conscience, before God, let us ask ourselves, ‘what can I do for peace?’.
Pope Francis' call has been endorsed by senior Anglican leaders worldwide – including by the acting Primate of the Anglican Church in South Sudan, by the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion – and by the World Council of Churches General Secretary.
And today, the call has been amplified in this part of the world, by Cardinal John Dew, Archbishop of Wellington and Metropolitan of New Zealand, and by Archbishop Philip Richardson, joint leader of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.
They have issued an appeal to this country's Catholics and Anglicans, which reads as follows:
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
We write to you to add our voices to those around the world who are responding to the call from Pope Francis for a day of prayer and fasting for peace for the peoples of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan.
We strongly encourage Catholics and Anglicans throughout Aotearoa New Zealand to join with others around the world in this growing movement of concern.
There are so many needs across God’s world that it is easy to become overwhelmed or to become immune to the cries of the suffering.
To draw our own focus and the attention of the world to two places of great need is worthy of our time and our solidarity.
Please join with us on the 23rd of February in prayer and fasting.
Cardinal John Dew
Archbishop Philip Richardson
Within the DRC, 4.3 million people are displaced and 13.1 million people will need humanitarian aid this year.
The young nation of South Sudan has known terrible conflict for four years. Two million of its people have fled the country, and about 1.9 million are internally displaced. Almost two-thirds of the remaining population of South Sudan – about seven million people – still need humanitarian help.