Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Wire Service: AP
On July 25, 2004 the Associated Press reported, "Pope John Paul II denounced the use of child soldiers in Uganda and the plight of refugees in Sudan as he appealed Sunday to African leaders and the international community to work to end the continent's conflicts. 'During these days of relaxation and rest, my thought goes often to the dramatic conditions in different parts of the world,' John Paul said, addressing pilgrims in the courtyard of his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, outside Rome. 'For more than 18 years, northern Uganda is troubled by an inhumane conflict which involves millions of persons, including children. Many of them, gripped by fear and deprived of any future, feel forced to become soldiers,' John Paul said. He urged the international community and national political leaders to end the conflict and 'offer real prospects of peace to the entire Ugandan nation.' Speaking about Darfur, in western Sudan, the pontiff said that intensified warfare in the region 'brings with it ever more poverty, desperation and death. Twenty years of harsh clashes have left Sudan with a huge number of dead, evacuees and refugees.' 'How can we remain indifferent?' the pontiff said, making a 'grief-stricken appeal' to political leaders and international organizations. Catholicism is experiencing some of its biggest growth in Africa, and John Paul said bishops in Uganda were working for national reconciliation."