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Friday, February 10, 2012


Vatican City, 10 February 2010 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, the Holy Father received in audience twenty-five members of the John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel (the sub-Saharan region of Africa which includes countries on the west coast and central part of the continent). The institution came into being following John Paul II's first trip to Africa and was formally established with a Chirograph on 22 February 1984. It is involved in managing and protecting natural resources, the struggle against drought and desertification, rural development and the fight against poverty, through the involvement of local people.

In his address Benedict XVI recalled how in recent months the Sahel "has been seriously threatened by a significant drop in food supplies and famine, caused by low rainfall and the consequent inexorable advance of the desert. I exhort the international community to concern itself with the extreme poverty of these peoples, whose living conditions are deteriorating. And I encourage and support the efforts made by the ecclesial organisations which operate in this field".

In some of the countries in which the Foundation operates Islam is also present. In this context Benedict XVI expressed his satisfaction at the good relations that exist with Muslims, and noted "the importance of bearing witness to the fact that Christ lives, and that His love goes beyond all religions, races and cultures".

In conclusion the Pope highlighted how "Africa is the continent of hope for the Church, ... the continent of the future".

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