VATICAN CITY, NOV. 28, 2005 ( Benedict XVI reiterated the Holy See's commitment to the beleaguered peoples of Darfur and encouraged reconciliation in Sudan.

"The horror of events unfolding in Darfur, to which my beloved predecessor Pope John Paul II referred on many occasions, points to the need for a stronger international resolve to ensure security and basic human rights," the Holy Father said today.

He made that point when receiving in audience Cardinal Gabriel Zubeir Wako, archbishop of Khartoum, who was accompanied by a few of Sudan's bishops.

"Today," the Pope said in his English-language address, "I add my voice to the cry of the suffering and assure you that the Holy See, together with the apostolic nuncio in Khartoum, will continue to do everything possible to end the cycle of violence and misery."

The Bishop of Rome noted that "the cessation of the civil war and the enactment of a new constitution have brought hope to the long-suffering people of Sudan."

"While there have been setbacks along the path of reconciliation, not least the tragic death of John Garang, there now exists an unprecedented opportunity and indeed duty for the Church to contribute significantly to the process of forgiveness and national reconstruction," Benedict XVI affirmed.

Garang, one of the founders of the Sudan People's Liberation Army, now a movement, died when his helicopter crashed July 30, a few days after he was appointed the country's vice president.

"Though a minority," the Pope said, "Catholics have much to offer through interreligious dialogue as well as the provision of greatly needed social services. I encourage you therefore to take the necessary initiatives to realize Christ's healing presence in these ways."