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Rome Reports

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The protests in South Africa that are worrying the Pope

Pope Francis is praying for South Africa, which is seeing its most violent protests in 25 years.

“This last week, unfortunately, news has arrived of episodes of violence that have aggravated the situation of so many of our brothers and sisters in South Africa, already affected by economic and health difficulties due to the pandemic.”

The protests have left an estimated 215 people dead.

The demonstrations began on Thursday, July 8, with road blockades in support of former president Jacob Zuma. Zuma was arrested for corruption, but he insists that he was unjustly targeted.

The protests spread to other cities, where they grew into violent confrontations and acts of vandalism.

Protesters are speaking out against injustice as well as the economic and social crises aggravated by the pandemic.

“United to the Bishops of the country, I address a heartfelt appeal to all the leaders involved, that they might work toward building peace and collaborate with the authorities to provide assistance to those in need.”

The bishops condemn “the glaring criminal elements that are taking advantage of this situation” and they ask that the people “rise above political interests, to protect life and preserve the common good.” They also speak out against “the lack of efficient leadership in government and unethical practices in business.”

The protests continue, but the violence has lowered in intensity. Pope Francis prayed that “the desire that has guided the South African people, the rebirth of harmony among all its children, not be forgotten.”