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 CNS Story:

POPE-REFUGEES Jun-19-2006 (250 words) xxxi

Pope offers prayers to refugees for United Nations' World Refugee Day

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI offered his prayers for the millions of refugees around the world living far from their homelands, often in very precarious conditions.

After reciting the midday Angelus prayer June 18, the pope spoke about the United Nations' June 20 celebration of World Refugee Day.

Pope Benedict said the annual event is an effort to "draw the attention of the international community to the condition of many people who are forced to flee their own lands because of serious forms of violence."

"These brothers and sisters of ours seek refuge in other countries with the hope of being able to return to their homes or, at least, of finding hospitality where they have sought refuge," the pope said.

While offering his prayers for refugees, he also called on Catholic communities and organizations to offer them concrete help and on the international community to do more to ensure respect for the human rights of refugees.

The pope had met June 17 with Jan Eliasson, president of the General Assembly of the United Nations and foreign minister of Sweden.

The Vatican said the central theme of the pope's meeting with Eliasson was "the process of globalization," especially the problem of "the scant recognition of the religious dimension" of human life.

"Without the contribution of religious values, even human rights could lose consistency," the Vatican statement said. "Attention was also given to the contribution that the meeting between religions can make toward peace and solidarity among all inhabitants of the planet."


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