DAILY CATHOLIC     TUESDAY     December 1, 1998     vol. 9, no. 233

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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          VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- Reacting to news of a shipwreck in the Adriatic Sea, Pope John Paul II used his Sunday Angelus audience to issue a strong statement condemning the exploitation of immigrants and illegal aliens.

          A steady stream of refugees from Albania, Kosovo, Turkey, and other countries is arriving on the eastern coast of Italy, often having crossed the Adriatic in crowded, unseaworthy vessels. Experts estimate that 17,000 people have arrived illegally in Italy by this route during the past six months.

          Last Friday, the collision of two such ships off the coast of Brindisi left at least one person-- a year-old baby-- dead, and four others missing and lost at sea.

          "Even as we pray for the victims of the shipwreck, I cannot but deplore, in the strongest possible terms, the manner in which some people exploit the misery of so many poor people, for their own personal gain," said the Pope. "These deaths should weigh heavily on their consciences."

          The latest accident, the Holy Father continued, "dramatically illustrates the problems of clandestine transportation" of illegal immigrants. He noted that the desperate families often entrust their safety to "unscrupulous" smugglers. He called upon governments to find ways to stop the "dishonest traffic" and create conditions in which refugees could live with dignity and find ways to make a better life.

          In a similar pronouncement, Pope John Paul II has issued another appeal for steps to ease the debt burden of impoverished countries.

          Addressing the participants in an international conference of parliamentarians, meeting in Rome to discuss the problems of world hunger and the environment, the Holy Father urged wealthy countries to "find the means to be generous in underwriting programs that would ease or simply annul the heavy burdens of debt which are crushing the least favored countries."

          The Pope praised the many statements of concern which have been issued by international bodies, calling for concrete action to address the problem of hunger. But such statements have no effect, he said, "because they are not supported by effective national legislation and by the political will to put appropriate programs into place."

Articles provided through Catholic World News Service.
CWN is not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provides this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

December 1, 1998       volume 9, no. 233


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