16-December-2012 -- EWTNews Feature |

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Novena prays for peace in Democratic Republic of Congo

The Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need has created a novena to pray for peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo amid continued conflict and a humanitarian "catastrophe" for refugees.

"The Democratic Republic of the Congo cries out its silent distress," reads the charity's Novena to the Prince of Peace.

"Slaughter, burning, pillaging, the systematic degradation of women following rapes, impoverishment of the peasants, hostage-taking, internal displacement of populations...have become the daily lot of the inhabitants of the east of the country."

The Dec. 16 to 24 novena asks Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, to "stop this hideous war and finally to enable us to build a pacified, unified and prosperous country."

Since May 2012 the rebel movement M23 has engaged in violent attacks. Rebel troops recently invaded Goma, the capital of North Kivu province, and held it for 12 days before agreeing to withdraw.

Christine du Coudray, Aid to the Church in Need's Head of Africa Projects, said "huge crowds" of displaced people are living in "the most basic conditions" on the hills around Bukavu, the provincial capital of South Kivu. They lack shelter and suffer disease without food or medicine.

The rainy seasons are turning the ground at the refugees' feet into mud almost eight inches deep in places.

"It's a catastrophe for these people," she said.

Five million people have died in the country over the last 16 years and its infant mortality is the fifth highest in the world.

Du Coudray said that those helping the refugees will pray the novena "convinced that the Lord will listen to the prayer of his flock."

Bishop Bernard Kasanda of Mbuji-Mayi lamented the lack of international media interest in the region.

"There is complete indifference," he told Aid to the Church in Need. "I think this is due in large part to a lack of information for the people in the world."

"Not everything is being told," he said, charging that what news comes out is misleading.

"Personal dignity is being trodden underfoot and the humiliation of the Congolese people has reached its peak," he added.

Bishop Kasanda said inaction from authorities like the U.N. peacekeepers could result in the rebels capturing Bukavu.

He blamed conflict over mineral resources and oil in the country's northeast for causing instability.

Du Coudray agreed, noting that the resources have attracted armed militia groups since the end of the Democratic Republic of Congo's second civil war in 2003. These groups abduct children and rape women, though the Congolese army too is accused of rape.

She called on the international community to defend fair trade and prevent the exploitation of the Congolese.

Bishop Kasanda similarly called for legal and transparent use of natural resources that will help advance peace and development.

The bishop also criticized the U.N. Security Council's selection of neighboring Rwanda as a new member, citing Rwanda's "serious violations" against Congolese territory.

Read more: http://www.ewtnnews.com/catholic-news/World.php?id=6733#ixzz2FKJyL6zE

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