Pope Francis has declared Feb. 23 as a day of prayer and fasting for peace and has invited all Roman Catholics and other people of faith to participate in that initiative.
During his weekly blessing in St. Peter's Square on Feb. 4, Pope Francis appealed to everyone to reject violence and conflict. He urged the faithful to fast from food and perform acts of charity on Feb. 23 as penitence for peace, Reuters detailed.
Feb. 23 also falls on the first full week of the Lent season. On that day, the pope appealed to his audience to ask God what they can do for peace.
"Surely, we can pray but not only: each one of us can say 'no' to violence in their own way, because victories obtained through violence are false victories, while working for peace benefits all," said Pope Francis.
The pontiff specifically requested everyone to offer their day of prayer and fasting to the people in the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan who are suffering from violence and humanitarian crisis.
Last month, Pope Francis also highlighted the escalation of violence in the DRC during his general audience in the Vatican. He made a similar appeal to everyone to make a commitment to abstain from all acts of violence, the Catholic News Agency reported.
In light of the situation in the DRC, Pope Francis said the Catholic Church wants to contribute to efforts to build a peaceful society.
Political tensions in the DRC have been escalating at a dangerous level as people defied an ongoing protest ban to stage demonstrations and demand the resignation of President Joseph Kabila. People also feared that the country would return to civil war as the protests turned deadly and the militia violence increased.
The DRC's eastern region is also afflicted by armed conflict. The situation has caused millions of people to flee from their homes.