More Efforts Urged to Wipe Out Leprosy

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 25, 2004 ( John Paul II appealed to the international community to spare no efforts to eradicate leprosy.

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After praying the Angelus on World Leprosy Day, the Pope remembered in particular “all those who still suffer from Hansen’s disease.”

“While I invite you to pray for them and for all those who care for them, I encourage the efforts of the international community to eradicate this illness,” he told pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square today.

For Leprosy Day, Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, sent a message stating, in part, that “the Catholic Church makes every effort to care for lepers and to remove the psychological and social barriers” attached to the illness.

According to the World Health Organization, leprosy afflicts between 2 million and 3 million people.

The Church, in its Statistical Yearbook, says it runs 678 leprosariums worldwide and looks after 817,321 leprosy patients.

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