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Pope says missionary martyrs are beacons of faith for young

Pope John Paul II said the example of modern missionary martyrs can inspire young Catholics to follow Christ courageously.

At a midday blessing in St. Peter's Square on Sunday, a day in Italy to commemorate missionary martyrs, the pope told young people he prayed they would have "this coherence and this courage (of the martyrs)" as they made major life decisions.

Fides, the Vatican's missionary news service, said 33 church workers in mission territories lost their lives in 2001.

In 2002, three church workers in mission territories already have been killed they include a priest and archbishop in Colombia and 31-year-old Irish Mill Hill missionary Fr Declan O'Toole working in Uganda.

Meanwhile two Ugandan soldiers were executed yesterday after a court-martial convicted them of killing Fr O'Toole in an ambush near his parish last Thursday. At a court-martial in the town of Kotido, the two soldiers entered guilty pleas. After a witness - a church worker who had survived the ambush - testified that the two were the killers, the court sentenced them to death.

Fr O'Toole had been killed shortly after releasing a report in which he criticised the Ugandan army for allowing a sharp increase in arms traffic, at a time when the government's official policy called for disarmament. The ambush in which he died took place near an army barracks in Kotido.


27 Mar 2002