More than 31,000 people have fled South Sudan in the early months of 2017 to escape violence and famine there, the Fides news service reports.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees says that among the refugees flooding into Sudan, about 80% are women and children. The UN body estimates the total number of refugees from South Sudan, since the start of the current conflict, at over 300,000.
The famine in South Sudan has been aggravated by an escalating civil war that has interfered with the production and distribution of food.
The Vatican newspaper has drawn attention to the March 3 observance of the World Day of Prayer, a women’s ecumenical initiative that dates from 1927.
The 2017 theme, developed in the Philippines, is “Am I being unfair to you?”
The day’s organizers write:
Many Filipino women and girls who are victims of domestic violence or sex trafficking, migrant domestic workers in the country or abroad, and survivors harmed emotionally and economically by disasters in the environment or unsustainable development policies. How can we hear these stories and not realize the sinfulness of structures that consolidate economic inequality? We are called to confess and take on our ethical responsibility to answer God’s call for justice.
In his public audience on Ash Wednesday, March 1, Pope Francis encouraged the Catholic faithful to welcome the season of Lent, to “begin our journey of hope with joy.”
Lent is a season of hope, the Pontiff explained, because we look forward to the Resurrection, confident that with God’s help we can share in Christ’s victory. However, while Jesus has paid the price of our redemption, “that doesn’t mean that He did everything and we don’t have to do anything,” the Holy Father cautioned. He rejected the notion that since Jesus died on the Cross, “we will go to heaven in a carriage.”
The penitential season of Lent, the Pope said, is like the 40 years that the Hebrew people spent in the desert after their exodus from Egypt. Each day, with its particular obstacles, presents a challenge to grow closer to God.