Haitians Urged to Do What They Must

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 29, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II appealed to Haitians to make the courageous decisions their country requires, as he called on the international community and aid organizations to help the Caribbean country.

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The Pope made his appeal today before praying the midday Angelus and before learning that Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide resigned and flew into exile.

At the end of his greeting to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square, the Holy Father called the news from Haiti in recent days “worrying and painful.”

“I feel the duty to invite all Haitians to have the courage and humility to make the necessary decisions for the good of the country,” the Pope said from the window of his study.

“While I encourage the diplomatic work of the international community and appeal for generous commitment by humanitarian organizations, I send a special blessing to the beloved Haitian people,” he concluded.

Aristide left the country after a three-week uprising. Rebels were 40 kilometers (25 miles) outside of Port-au-Prince and threatening to attack unless the president resigned.

France, Haiti’s former colonial power, had exhorted Aristide to quit for the good of this nation of 8 million. There were conflicting reports of Aristide’s destination.

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