New Delhi (Agenzi Fides) - The Catholic Church in India and also the faithful of other religions, Hindus and Muslims, have responded to Pope Francis’ appeal and have joined the pontiff and universal Church in celebrating today, 23 February, a Day of prayer and fasting for peace, especially for the peoples of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and South Sudan, in Africa. As Fides learns, numerous churches and religious communities throughout the country have celebrated prayer meetings, vigils and special moments of fasting. They were joined by faithful of other religions, many of Hindu religion, expressing the desire of long lasting for peace.
John Dayal, Catholic journalist and intellectual, former president of the "All India Catholic Union", told Agenzia Fides: "A day of fasting can give great spiritual benefit, in order to internalize the issue: the importance of peace cannot be minimized, thinking about Africa but also about the political environment in which India is situated".
The Holy Father also invited members of other religions to take part in the initiative, in the forms they consider most appropriate (moments of prayer, fasting and reflection), underlining that religions can contribute considerably to the consolidation of peace.
Dayal continues: "India is going through a social phase marked by violence. Politics is also polarized with the use of the religious factor. In this context, the desire for peace and the common effort of the people assume an individual and collective value. We support the Holy Father's call to prayer and fasting in this time of Lent".
Dominican Fr. Francis Arackal, Professor of Media and Philosophy in Delhi, joins the prayer and tells Fides: "Fasting is an effective means of establishing peace and balance. This is how a peaceful society is built. I believe that it is with this spirit that the Pope asks people to fast. Without peace, there can be no development".
In some dioceses, parishioners, nuns and priests gathered in prayer of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. Mary Ratnam, a Catholic laywoman from the Archdiocese of Vishakapatnam, Andhra Pradesh tells Fides that her community gathered in silent prayer: "Our hearts and prayers go to Africa and to other parts of the world where hostility is increasing and people are suffering. Many people live in fear and uncertainty or die because of war. We hope and pray that violence stops, and that peace reigns". (SD-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 23/2/2018)