Pope Francis at the Wednesday general audience on Dec. 28, 2022. / Vatican Media.
Vatican City, Apr 16, 2023 / 08:30 am (CNA).
Pope Francis asked people to pray for Sudan on Sunday, that the country’s rival military factions might lay down their weapons and pursue peace.
“I am following with concern the events unfolding in Sudan,” he said April 16, from a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square.
“I am close to the Sudanese people, already so tried, and I invite you to pray so that they might lay down their arms and pick up the path of peace and harmony,” he added.
The pope invited prayers for the African country after leading the Regina Caeli, a Marian antiphon he prays publicly on each Sunday of the Easter Season.
Pope Francis gives a blessing at the conclusion of the Regina Caeli on April 16, 2023. Vatican Media
Fighting intensified in Sudan’s capital of Khartoum and in other cities April 16 after skirmishes broke out Saturday morning between the Sudan army and the rival Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary group.
The clashes have erupted after almost a year and a half of military rule, and have ended hopes for a peaceful transition of power.
At least 56 people have been killed and almost 600 injured, according to reports. Fighting is reportedly taking place primarily in residential areas of the city, where civilians have been sheltering indoors since Saturday morning.
As of April 16, it was unclear which side had control of the country with both the army and RSF claiming their side was winning.
The New York Times reported that the fighting is spreading to other parts of Sudan, including in the western region of Darfur.
In his message on Sunday, Pope Francis also wished Orthodox Christians a happy Easter, while lamenting the ongoing wars in the world.
“Unfortunately, in strike contrast to the Easter message, wars are continuing, and they continue to sow death in horrific ways,” he said. “Let us grieve over these atrocities and let us pray for the victims, asking God that the world might never more have to experience the shock of violent death by human hand, but awe of the life that he gives and renews with his grace.”