UK Cardinal Makes Ecumenical Plea for Congo

Christian Leaders Urge End to Disaster

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LONDON, England, DEC. 3, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The archbishop of Westminster is joining with other Christian leaders of England to appeal for an end to the humanitarian crisis in Congo.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor joined with the archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams; Commissioner Betty Matear of the Salvation Army; and Bishop Nathan Hovhanissian of the Armenian Church, to call today for rapid resolutions in Congo.

As the fighting in the African nation continues between the militia of General Laurent Nkunda and the Congolese government, along with other factions, some quarter of a million people have been displaced.

«We call for an immediate strengthening of peacekeeping forces in the region to protect civilians and provide safe passage for the humanitarian aid, to the hundreds of thousands of vulnerable and displaced civilians, at risk of being caught up in fighting between various armed groups as well as being victims of targeted attacks against them,» the statement said.

The Christian leaders expressed gratitude for the work of churches of all denominations in Congo, struggling «to address the overwhelming physical and psychological needs of their communities. Without shelter, in the middle of the rainy season, hungry, frightened and sick, many also face daily intimidation and violence. These men, women and children cannot wait any longer for the international community to act.»

The statement called for a strengthening of the U.N. peacekeeping force «in a matter of weeks, not months.»

They offered their prayers for a lasting solution to the crisis and for the leadership of Nigeria’s former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, «as he seeks to bring the multitude of interested parties to the table and keep them there to ensure a just and sustainable solution.»

They concluded by recognizing the contributions of African church leaders, and those in the United Kingdom, who are helping «to bring this issue to the attention of Christians and the wider public in Britain.»

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