John Paul II Laments Plight of World's Children

Cites Victims of Hunger, Abuse and War

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 6, 2005 ( John Paul II made a plea on the solemnity of Epiphany in defense of the child victims of hunger, abuse and war.

Before praying the Angelus with crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square today, the Pope especially praised the work of the Pontifical Society of the Missionary Childhood, an agency under the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

«The Epiphany is also the Day of Missionary Childhood,» the Holy Father told the 40,000 people in the square. «Children are the present and the future of the Church. They have an active role in the evangelization of the world, and with their prayers they contribute to save and improve it.»

«While I renew my prayer for the little victims of the tsunami in Asia,» he said, «I cannot forget the child victims of hunger and illnesses, of war and terrorism, as well as the children who are abducted or have disappeared or those exploited for the vile motive of trafficking.»

«My appreciative thought goes to those committed to the defense of the smallest, in a particular way to the Pontifical Society of the Missionary Childhood,» the Pope added.

The Day of Missionary Childhood aims to awaken in young people a sense of missionary awareness and solidarity with other children in the world, especially those in the poorest areas.

The Pontifical Society of the Missionary Childhood, active in more than 100 countries, last year distributed $18 million to finance 2,500 projects for children, particularly in Africa and Asia.

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