Pope´s Address Before Praying "Regina Caeli"

Calls for an End to Exploitation of Children as Soldiers

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 3, 2001 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of John Paul II´s address today, before praying the «Regina Caeli.»

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1. At the end of this solemn celebration, I want to entrust to Mary´s maternal intercession the whole Church, which in Pentecost has a renewed awareness of her missionary vocation. Moreover, we place in her hands the expectations of peace and justice of the world. In particular, we wish to recommend to Our Lady´s intercession the lives of so many youths, who are victims of the ongoing absurd violence in several countries, as testified by the news reaching us in the past days from the Holy Land. In addition to them, we remember especially the children involved in armed conflicts. In about 50 countries, many minors live in the midst of conflicts or post-conflict situations. They are victims of forced recruitment and of abuses of all kinds; they cannot go to school, they are separated from their parents, and subjected to physical and psychological violence.

I appeal to the international community to increase its efforts to protect and rehabilitate all those who live in such tragic conditions. May the children, who are humanity´s future and hope, grow up at last far away from the flagellation of war and every form of violence. May Mary, Mother of life, protect children in danger and support those who work to help them.

2. In a few moments, the venerable remains of Blessed John XXIII, which we had with us during the Holy Mass, will be devotedly taken to the Vatican Basilica, where they will remain exposed for the veneration of the faithful. I remember with admiration the brief but intense pontificate of this, my unforgettable predecessor. At this moment, I would like to recall his fervent devotion to Our Lady. He often remembered the good traditions of his childhood, when the most elderly in the family led the recitation of the rosary at home. Since then, he liked to say, Most Holy Mary took him by the hand and accompanied him on the path of the priesthood, the ideal of his whole life.

On May 15, 1963, during the last general audience in St. Peter´s Basilica, he exhorted everyone to multiply their manifestations of affection for Mary, to whom, he underlined, the whole Eternal City is, so to speak, consecrated.

Let us gather his spiritual testament! Like him, let us deepen our relation with the Mother of Christ and Tabernacle of the Holy Spirit and, inspired by new fervor, let us invoke her with confidence: Regina caeli …

[Translation by ZENIT]

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