Earlier today, Pope Benedict XVI added his own voice to the cries of suffering rising from the violence-ridden African region of Sudan as he met with Catholic delegates from that country.
Cardinal Gabriel Zubeir Wako, Archbishop of Khartoum, Sudan, accompanied by a group of Sudanese pilgrims met with the Pope this morning at the Vatican.
During the meeting, Benedict expressed his grave concern for the country, which has recently emerged from a prolonged period of armed conflict, and expressed his “great satisfaction” at the group’s visit.
Through them, he extended his “heartfelt greetings” to the people of Sudan.
“I very much appreciate”, he said, “the sentiments which have prompted your visit, and I wish to reassure you of my prayers and deep concern for the peaceful development of civil and ecclesial life in your nation.”
The Holy Father pointed out that "the cessation of the civil war and the enactment of a new constitution have brought hope to the long-suffering people of Sudan.”
He told them that “while there have been setbacks along the path of reconciliation, not least the tragic death of John Garang, there now exists an unprecedented opportunity and indeed duty for the Church to contribute significantly to the process of forgiveness and national reconstruction.”
“Though a minority,” the Pope stressed, “Catholics have much to offer through inter-religious dialogue as well as the provision of greatly needed social services. I encourage you therefore to take the necessary initiatives to realize Christ's healing presence in these ways.
Benedict also noted that the horrendous events “unfolding in Darfur, to which my beloved predecessor Pope John Paul II referred on many occasions, points to the need for a stronger international resolve to ensure security and basic human rights.”
He said that “today, I add my voice to the cry of the suffering and assure you that the Holy See, together with the apostolic nuncio in Khartoum, will continue to do everything possible to end the cycle of violence and misery."