Churches join for peace

13 December 2013

PEACE IN THE GREAT LAKES

Campaign: Anglican and RC bishops at the peace launch, in Goma, on 1 December 

Campaign: Anglican and RC bishops at the peace launch, in Goma, on 1 December 

THE Archbishop of Canterbury and the RC Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Revd Vincent Nichols, are backing a church-led peace campaign in the Great Lakes region of central Africa, which has suffered more than 20 years of faction-fighting, genocide, and chaos across three countries.

Archbishop Welby and Archbishop Nichols have sent prayers and expressed solidarity with the Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches in Burundi, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which have begun a year-long campaign to promote reconciliation.

Conflict across the three countries has caused the deaths of at least seven million people, and the displacement of many more.

In a joint letter to church leaders in the region, timed for the launch of the campaign on Advent Sunday, at Goma on the DRC-Rwanda border, the Archbishops wrote: "We would like you to know just how much your courage and dignity is admired by those of us who have followed your trials and tribulations over the past twenty or more years."

The Archbishops' message was read out at services across the three countries, and is expected to reach more than half the region's population of 90 million.

Last month, the Rwandan local-government minister, James Musoni, met church leaders to discuss the project. In a joint statement afterwards, they said that the "Peace in Great Lakes" campaign would "invite the public, especially the youth, to embrace peace and reconciliation as the only way to sustainable peace and development".

Among the strategies they plan to use are partnerships between religious communities, community mobilisation, and joint pastoral letters from church leaders, to be read out in parishes.

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