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Friday, February 18, 2005


VATICAN CITY, FEB 18, 2005 (VIS) - Made public today was a Letter from Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of State, to Archbishop Seraphin Rouamba of Koupela, Burkina Faso and president of the Administrative Council of the John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel, thanking him on the part of the Pope for the work that he and the Foundation have done since it was founded in 1984, and renewing the Pope's appeal to help the peoples of the Sahel.

  The Letter, written in French and dated February 8, starts with a reference to Pope John Paul's trip to five African nations in 1980 where, on May 10, from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, he issued an appeal to the international community to aid the peoples suffering from severe desertification in the Sahel region of Africa. That appeal led to the institution of the John Paul II Foundation, with a Chirograph by the Holy Father on February 22, 1984.
  The Sahel is the sub-Saharan region of Africa, which includes countries on the west coast and central part of the continent.

  Cardinal Sodano expresses the Holy Father's gratitude to "all those who, from diverse parts of the world, responded quickly to his invitation and who generously cooperated with his concern for the many people who found themselves in truly precarious circumstances." The concrete initiatives that answered the Pope's appeal, writes the cardinal, led to the formation of the Foundation for the Sahel, "whose administration is directed by the episcopacies of the nine countries involved, whereas the legal representation is entrusted to the Pontifical Council Cor Unum." The nine countries are: Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali, Guinea Bissau, Cape Verde, Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia and Chad.

  The cardinal notes the "fruits" of the "efficacious and intense work of the Foundation" since the Pope's 1980 Africa trip and appeal. He adds that the Holy Father hopes "that these works will continue with a growing and renewed elan to support the communities that have been its beneficiaries, allowing them to be ever more responsible for their integral and harmonious development."

  Notwithstanding these initiatives, writes the secretary of State, "the situation of these regions continues to be very worrisome. That is why the Holy Father takes this occasion to renew his appeal, encouraging the efforts used to surmount the many problems and the many needs that still persist and which concern available resources, unfortunately insufficient," especially drinkable water.

  Cardinal Sodano concludes by stating that Pope John Paul hopes that "this anniversary will be a propitious occasion for a renewed stimulus of solidarity to assure the worthy Foundation the means which will allow it to pursue its human and Christian mission with success."

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