2009-02-04 15:06:20

Pope appeals for Innocent Victims Caught Up in Sri Lanka Conflict

(04 Feb 09 - RV) Pope Benedict made an appeal for peace in Sri Lanka during his weekly audience today, saying that the increasing number of innocent victims caught up in the conflict in the country gave serious cause for concern.
Pope Benedict made an appeal for Sri Lanka on Wednesday during his weekly general audience calling on combatants to respect human rights and the freedom of movement of the population caught up in the fighting in the country.

The conflict is concentrated in a sliver of coastal land in the north of the country, where an estimated 250,000 Tamil civilians are trapped along with the last of the Tamil Tigers rebels.

The rebels have been fighting for 25 years for a separate homeland for the country's minority Tamils.

In that time about 70,000 people have been killed in the fighting.

The Pope added that the safety of civilians needs to be guaranteed and assistance be given to those in urgent need of food and medical attention.

The Holy Father’s appeal co-incided with the 61st anniversary of the county’s independence and Catholics in Sri Lanka were invited by the church there to mark February 4th as day of prayer for peace in the nation.

During his audience the Pope also concluded his catechesis on the figure of Saint Paul focusing on his life and legacy.

Though there is no account of Paul’s death in the New Testament, a strong tradition holds that he was martyred in Rome during the reign of Nero and buried along the Via Ostiense on the site of the present Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls. Saint Clement of Rome, in a first-century letter to the Corinthians, extols Paul’s patience in suffering as a model for all Christians to imitate. Paul himself alluded to his agony in sacrificial terms when he wrote: for I am already being poured out like a libation, and the time of my departure is at hand” (2 Tim 4:6). Paul’s writings have inspired countless commentaries through the centuries.

The pope also went on to say that this apostle provides an example to the church in its mission of Evangelisation.

By listening to his teaching, may we be strengthened in our commitment to Christ, so as to take part joyfully in the Church’s mission of evangelization!

In conclusion, Pope Benedict, as always warmly greeted all the English speaking visitors in the Paul VI Hall who had made the journey from as far away as Hong Kong and the United States to be at the audience.

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