Feb. 23 is a Friday in the first full week of the Christian season of Lent, during which fasting from food and extra acts of charity are encouraged as a sign of penitence.

Pope Francis has therefore invited Roman Catholics, all Christians and members of other religions to observe Feb. 23 as a day of prayer, fasting and initiatives for peace.

He made this clear at St. Peter’s Square during his weekly blessing, on Sunday, urging everyone to ‘say no’ to violence and conflict.

According to him, the appeal is because of the “tragic prolonging” of conflicts around the world.

He said “everyone, in their own consciences, before God, should ask ‘what can I do for peace?’”

“Surely, we can pray but not only: each one of us can say ‘no’ to violence in their own way, because victories obtained through violence are false victories while working for peace benefits all,” he said.

Francis said the prayers and fasting should be offered in a particular way for the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.

South Sudan has been hit by a prolonged civil war and humanitarian crisis. The Democratic Republic of Congo has been hit by unrest this month following the shooting of protesting pro-democracy churchgoers opposed to President Joseph Kabila.