CWN - Following the recitation of the Angelus on February 19, Pope Francis asked those gathered in St. Peter’s Square to pray for peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Kasai-Central province, where clashes between the army and a militia have left more than 100 dead.

“News continues to reach us of violent and brutal clashes in the region of Central Kasai of the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” the Pope said. “I feel intensely the grief of the victims, especially for so many children torn from their families and from school to be used as soldiers.”

He continued, “I assure my closeness and prayer, also for the religious and humanitarian personnel who work in that difficult region; and I renew my heartfelt appeal to the conscience and the responsibility of the national authorities and of the international community, so that appropriate and timely decisions are taken to help these brothers and sisters of ours.”

The Pope also prayed for "all peoples suffering also in other parts of the African continent and of the world due to violence and war. I am thinking, in particular, of the beloved populations of Pakistan and of Iraq, scourged by cruel terrorist acts in past days. Let us pray for the victims, for the wounded and for their relatives. Let us pray ardently that every heart hardened by hatred is converted to peace, in keeping with God’s will. Let us pray for a moment in silence."