VATICAN (CWN) -- In his weekly Angelus audience on Sunday, March 1, Pope John Paul II expressed his satisfaction with the agreement that staved off a military conflict in the Persian Gulf, and offered his thanks to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan for his role in negotiating the accord.

      The Holy Father said that he hoped the agreement would prove enduring, and form a "definitive" basis for peaceful negotiations. The negotiations, he said, had been "a victory for the international community."

      The Pope recognized that the crisis in Iraq has not been resolved, and the situation "remains delicate and complex." But "hope is strong," he quickly added. The Pope offered his prayer "that God will continue to enlighten all those who have at heart the future of the Iraqi people and of peace in the Middle East."

      After praying the Angelus, the Pope once again called upon the wealthy nations to examine the possibility of lightening the burden of debts being carried by many Third World countries. He said that the advent of the Jubilee Year 2000 offers "an opportune time" for reduction or forgiveness of international debt. He offered his support for all international bodies which search for "equitable solutions."

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March 4, 1998 volume 9, no. 45         DAILY CATHOLIC