Put Resources into Fighting Illnesses, Pope Urges

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 26, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II urged that resources be allocated to combat illnesses and poverty, not to build up war arsenals.

The Pope made this appeal today after praying the midday Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square. His comments came on the occasion of the 50th World Day of Lepers.

Speaking from the window of his study, the Pope mentioned the centenary of the birth of Raoul Follereau. The French journalist drew world attention in the late 1950s and 1960s to the plight of the world’s millions of lepers, who were marginalized and discriminated against, he said.

“How timely is his appeal, inviting to allocate resources not to war arsenals but to combat poverty and illnesses!” the Holy Father stressed.

“I feel close to brothers and sisters who unfortunately still continue to suffer from Hansen’s disease,” John Paul II said, using the technical term for leprosy. “And I encourage the multiplication of efforts to defeat it, both at the level of health as well as the social level.”

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