Pope condemns use of child soldiers
Pope John Paul has deeply regretted the use of child soldiers in world conflicts, saying they were "victims twice over" and were "overwhelmed by the hatred of adults".
The Holy Father made the comments in his weekly Sunday appearance to pilgrims and tourists in St Peter's Square, noting that his message for Lent called on the faithful to put children at the centre of their attention.
He said children around the world are victims of sickness, AIDS and hunger — as well as a "horrible form of violence" in which they are enlisted as child soldiers.
"They undergo a scandalous double aggression: They are made victims and at the same time protagonists of war, overwhelmed in the hatred of adults," John Paul said. "Deprived of everything, they see their future threatened by a nightmare that's difficult to get out of."
He called for the "anguished appeal" of child soldiers to be heard around the world, and for Christians to pay particular attention to all children at risk or abandoned this Easter season.
The United Nations estimates that some 300,000 children worldwide are being used as soldiers despite initiatives aimed at protecting them.
Pope Condemns Use of Child Soldiers (Associated Press/Yahoo 28/3/04)
Children's Plight Must Be Addressed, Says Pope (Zenit 28/3/04)
300,000 Child-Soldiers Fighting in 36 Wars (Zenit 28/3/04)
Pope condemns use of child soldiers (Associated Press/Atlanta Journal Constitution 28/3/04)
Pope: 'hear the cry of our little brothers and sisters' (Independent Catholic News 29/3/04)
Pope says to save children, the victims and protagonists of war (AsiaNews.it 28/3/04)
May the silent cry of pain by children not go unheard (Vatican Information Service 27/3/04)
Liberia's child soldiers (The Tablet 4/10/03)
Sri Lankan bishop challenges rebels on child soldiers (CathNews 5/2/03)
Vatican ratifies child soldier, prostitution pact (CathNews 26/10/01)
Coalition to Stop the User of Child Soldiers
30 Mar 2004