Pope's May Day blessing for workers

In the first of his regular Sunday Angelus blessings, Pope Benedict XVI has issued a call for workers' rights to be respected, saying solidarity, justice and peace are the pillars on which the human family is built.

"I hope that the young, especially, will not want for work, and that working conditions will be ever more respectful of the dignity of the human person," the 78-year-old Pope told more than 50,000 pilgrims in St Peter's Square.

ABC News reports that he told the May Day crowd that he hopes they would continue their "Christian fraternity" because "solidarity, justice and peace are the pillars on which the unity of the human family is built."

The new pontiff, who last week said he would use his pontificate to work for Christian unity, also sent greetings "with particular affection" to the Orthodox Churches.

They were marking Easter celebrations yesterday.

"It is my heartfelt hope that the celebration of Easter is for them a harmonious prayer of faith and praise in our common Lord, who calls us to decisively follow the path towards full communion," he said.

The Pope also used the occasion to call for peace in strife-torn Togo and other countries hit "by war, disease and poverty."

"In recent days I often think of all the people who suffer because of war, sickness and poverty," he said.

Pope's first blessing focuses on workers, peace (Agence France-Presse/AFP 1/5/05)

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2 May 2005