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Pray, Reflect, and Take Action as we celebrate Religious Freedom June 28

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Religious Freedom Week 2020: For the Good of All

Central African Republic

That God would show the people of the Central African Republic the way to peace and reconciliation.

The Central African Republic (CAR) is one of the poorest countries in the world. A total of 2.9 million people, out of a population of 4.9 million, depend on humanitarian assistance. In 2012 a coalition of rebel groups, called the Seleka, from the predominantly Muslim North launched a rebellion that deposed then-president Francois Bozize in 2013. To counter the Seleka armed groups, non-Muslim rural communities strengthened traditional self-defense militias, called anti-balaka. Even though the conflict started primarily over political power and access to natural resources, the Seleka and anti-balaka forces resorted to banditry and attacks on unarmed Muslim and Christian civilians, making religious identity a driving force. During this civil war, Evangelical Pastor Nicolas Guerekoyame, Catholic Archbishop Dieudonné Nzapalainga, and Imam Omar Kobine Layama led an interreligious movement to counter rising hatred with reconciliation, and violence with peace. They championed the preservation of their country’s diverse social fabric. Religious leaders continue the hard work of healing the trauma of war and rebuilding a new society.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Relief Services labored alongside the religious leaders in the CAR and together helped launch the Central African Interfaith Peacebuilding Partnership. The Partnership supports trauma healing programs, peacebuilding practices, and other programs to help young people to learn skills, access small scale loans, and start farms and businesses. The Church also provides humanitarian aid to the thousands of wounded and displaced victims. Consider participating in this work by donating to CRS.

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