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Pope says Russian children victims of cruel fanaticism

Pope John Paul yesterday issued an emotional appeal for all the world's children, forcefully condemning the "cruel fanaticism" that led to hundreds of deaths at the Russian school in Beslan.

Speaking on the Feast of the Birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Holy Father said it is outrageous that children had found hate and death within the walls of a school.

"Looking at the infant Mary, how can we not think of all the little innocents at Beslan, in Ossetia, victims of a barbarous kidnapping who were tragically cut down," he said, having some difficulty pronouncing his words at his general audience.

"They were in a school, a place where one learns values that give meaning to history, to culture and the civilisation of peoples: mutual respect, solidarity, justice and peace," he said.

"Within those walls they instead found outrageous things, hate and death, evil consequences of a cruel fanaticism and an insane contempt for the human person," he said.

At least 326 people, many of them children, were killed in last week's school hostage siege, blamed on Chechen separatists.

The Pope said he wanted to broaden his appeal for respect for all innocent children around the world who are victims of violence inflicted by adults.

"Children forced to take up arms and be taught to hate and kill, children forced to beg in the streets, exploited for easy money, children mistreated and humiliated by the arrogance and abuse of adults," he said.

He said far too many children in the world were "abandoned, deprived of the warmth of the family and the prospects for a future, children who die of hunger, children killed in the many conflicts in various regions of the world".

Pope says Russian children victims of cruel fanaticism (Reuters 8/9/04)

Holy Father decries "savage attack' at Russian school, prays for victims and their relatives (L'Osservatore Romano 8/9/04)
Pope condemns Russian school siege deaths (Irish Times 8/9/04)
Pope prays for hostages, slain Russian children (Catholic World News 8/9/04)
The Pope: Let the world listen to the cry of pain of the children ( 8/9/04)
Pope focuses Wednesday audience on children, especially those killed in Russia (Catholic News Agency 8/9/04)
World needs peace, not violence, says Pope to inter-religious summit (Catholic News Agency 8/9/04)
Spread of "Culture of Death" Worries Pope (Zenit 7/9/04)
John Paul II Signs Up as Youth-Day Pilgrim (Zenit 7/9/04)
Holy Father decries "savage attack' at Russian school, prays for victims and their relatives (L'Osservatore Romano 8/9/04)
Pope says as he gets weaker his belief in prayer for peace increases (Catholic News Service 8/9/04)
Pope opposes military response to terrorism (Catholic World News 8/9/04)
Catholics stunned by Beslan tragedy (CathNews 7/9/04)
Pope sorrow for Ossetia victims (CathNews 6/9/04)

9 Sep 2004