VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis marked the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary by praying for the dozens of people massacred over the weekend in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and decrying the “shameful silence” that surround these attacks.
“To the Queen of Peace, who we contemplate today in heavenly glory, I wish to entrust once again the anxieties and sufferings of the people who, in many parts of the world, are innocent victims of persistent conflict,” the Pope said during Monday’s Angelus address.
Saturday’s attacks in DRC’s North Kivu province have long been “perpetuated in shameful silence, without even drawing our attention,” he said, and its victims include the “many innocent people who have no influence on global opinion.”
“May Mary obtain for everyone sentiments of understanding and a desire for harmony!”
At least 36 civilians were killed late Saturday during an attack blamed on the rebels from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), Reuters reports, although other estimates have the death toll as high as 42. Local authorities say it is the deadliest attack in the conflict-ridden region this year.
Pope Francis held a special Angelus in St. Peter’s Square on Aug. 15 for the Solemnity of the Assumption, a day which commemorates the Virgin Mary being assumed into heaven, body and soul.
In his reflection, the Pope spoke of the day’s Gospel reading, which recounts Mary visiting her cousin Elizabeth shortly after the Annunciation and reciting what the Church refers to as the Magnificat.
“She was the first to believe in the Son of God and is the first to have been assumed into heaven body and soul,” the Pope said.
Mary was the first to welcome and take the Child Jesus in her arms “and is the first to have been welcomed by his arms to be introduced into the eternal kingdom of the Father.”
“Mary, a humble and simple girl from a remote village in the outskirts of the empire, because she welcomed and lived the Gospel, was permitted by God to stand next to the throne of the Son for all eternity.”
Pope Francis spoke of the relevance of Mary’s assumption for each of us: “Today’s feast promises a ‘new heaven and a new earth,’ with the victory of the risen Christ over death and the final defeat of the evil one.”
“The exaltation of the humble girl from Galilee, expressed in the song of the Magnificat, becomes the song of the whole of humanity,” he said. The Lord bends over “all men and all women, humble creatures, and takes them with him in heaven.”
Pope Francis reflected on the relevance of the Magnificat prayer for those who live in “painful situations.” He spoke particularly of “women overwhelmed by the weight of life and the drama of violence, women enslaved by the arrogance of the powerful, girls forced into inhuman work, women forced to surrender themselves in body and in spirit to the greed of men.”
“May the beginning of a new life of peace, justice and love begin as soon as possible” for these women, who await the day in which they will finally “feel seized by hands which do not humiliate, but which, with tenderness, lift them up and guide them on the path of life, up to heaven.”
“Mary, a young maiden, a woman who suffered much in her life, makes us think of these women who suffer so much,” the Pope said. “We ask the Lord himself to guide them by the hand and carry them on the path of life, liberating them from this slavery.”