African Union's Peace Efforts Encouraged

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 19, 2004 ( John Paul II encouraged the peacemaking efforts of the African Union, when he received in audience its current leader, Mozambican President Joaquim Alberto Chissano.

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Chissano was in Rome to attend the Italy-Africa 2004 demonstration, organized by the city and the Community of Sant’Egidio.

In his brief address Saturday, the Holy Father said that he wished success for the African Union in its tasks. «May the heavenly Spirit descend on the great human family and inspire in the hearts of all peace and the gift of life!» he said.

Organizers estimated that about 100,000 people participated in the Italy-Africa 2004 demonstration and parade in central Rome. Demonstrators called for, among other things, a cancellation of the foreign debts of poor countries, the free distribution of medicines and vaccines, and an embargo on the sale of arms.

The initiative had the support of labor unions, non-governmental organizations, and political leaders including Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi.

John Paul II sent a telegram to the participants in a related symposium entitled «Africa and Europe, a Common Destiny,» to make public opinion more aware of the «grave problems of the African continent.»

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