WHY THIS ISSUE IS IMPORTANT: Earlier this month the Senate approved SR 383 calling for greater protection of the civilian population of the Darfur region of western Sudan, where innocent people are not only still caught in the middle of violent clashes between the Sudanese army and rebel forces, but also endure vicious atrocities systematically committed by the Janjaweed militia under the sponsorship of the government in Khartoum. The untold human suffering that results from this brutal government-sanctioned campaign against the people of Darfur, which the U.S. government has labeled genocide, has drawn the repeated condemnation of the U.S. bishops. In addition to the 400,000 people who have died since 2003, 2.5 million have been driven from their homes and 3.5 million are at risk of starvation.
As Catholics, we must answer the appeal of our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, last November: “The horror of events unfolding in Darfur, to which my beloved predecessor Pope John Paul II referred on many occasions, points to the need for a stronger international resolve to ensure security and basic human rights. Today, I add my voice to the cry of the suffering and assure you that the Holy See … will continue to do everything possible to end the cycle of violence and misery.”
WHAT YOU CAN DO: A relatively easy way to make your voice heard would be to join the Million Voices for Darfur Campaign. In support of our mission to follow the Gospel’s call to alleviate human suffering and promote justice throughout the world, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has joined the Save Darfur Coalition to stand against the heinous cruelty being inflicted on the innocent and to promote the Million Voices for Darfur Campaign. The Coalition, an alliance of over 150 faith-based, humanitarian and human rights organizations, seeks to collect one-million postcards encouraging the President in his call for a stronger multinational force to protect the people of Darfur. These postcards are available both in paper and electronically (www.savedarfur.org).
For any diocese or parish that would like to do more to express solidarity with those suffering in Darfur, the Coalition is also inviting people of faith to join in a “Week of Prayer and Action for Darfur” between April 2-9 in their local communities. Visit this web site for appropriate prayer resources or find them in the attached file. For those who might also want to participate in the Save Darfur Rally on the afternoon of Sunday, April 30, on the National Mall in Washington, DC, details are available on the website or by telephone at 202-478-6311 (voice) or 202-478-6196 (fax).
TAKE ACTION NOW! Make sure that your elected officials know that the American people stand by their commitment to the people of Darfur. Please tell the President and Congress today that the United States must make protecting the innocent civilians of Darfur a top priority. Remind our leaders that the American people cannot remain on the sidelines in the face of killings, rape and wanton destruction. As Bishop Ricard stated in a call to action on behalf of the bishops last September, “The crisis in Darfur must be ended. We cannot stand idly by while human life is threatened. The United States and the international community can and must do more to end this moral and humanitarian crisis.”
As an especially effective way of doing this, you may wish to take advantage of the materials provided by the Save Darfur Coalition, since these postcards—both electronic and handwritten—will be delivered to the President and Congress at the Save Darfur Rally at the end of next month. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to join a million voices crying out to save Darfur.
For more information, contact:
Theodore Rectenwald, Policy Advisor - African Affairs, 202-541-3149, TRectenwald@usccb.org