Buddhists Urged to Help Ease Plight of World's Children

Pontifical Council Makes Plea in Annual Message

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 30, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See proposed that Catholics and Buddhists mobilize to alleviate the dramatic situations of many children worldwide.

Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, made the proposal in a message to Buddhists on the occasion of Vesakh, their most important feast.

«Today, unfortunately, many children in our world are to a large extent deprived of the stable family so fundamental to society,» the British archbishop said in the message. «There are children who have never known a family or have been abandoned by their families.»

«There are children who have been compelled to endure the trauma caused by fighting between their parents, or by the breakup of the family,» he continued.

«Even worse, there are little ones who have been profoundly hurt by the violence of adults through: sexual abuse, prostitution, forced begging, involvement in the sale and use of drugs, conscription, etc.,» Archbishop Fitzgerald added.

«And what about the tragedy of HIV/AIDS? Every year hundreds of thousands of children are infected with HIV and so many die of AIDS; indeed many of them are infected from the moment of birth. Although they are innocent, they know only suffering and then death,» he lamented.

«We, Christians and Buddhists, cannot close our eyes in the face of these tragic situations. As religious believers we must turn our gaze to the needs of children, in our own families and in society as a whole,» Archbishop Fitzgerald said.

«We should mobilize all our forces and resources to alleviate the sufferings of children and in a special way to reach out to those in poorer countries,» he urged.

The president of the pontifical council added: «Governments, civic bodies and all people of good will, through our own example can be inspired to greater involvement in the welfare of all children.»

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