07/06/2008, 00.00
VATICAN
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Pope: G8, overcome humanity's hunger and extreme poverty

At his first Angelus from Castel Gandolfo this year, Benedict XVI launches an appeal to world leaders meeting tomorrow in Hokkaido. A prayer for the WYD in Sydney and a greeting (also in Chinese!) to a Chinese NGO, the Soong Ching-ling Foundation, which works on behalf of children in China and in the world.

Castel Gandolfo (AsiaNews) - At his first "summer" Angelus, at his residence in Castel Gandolfo, Benedict XVI addressed the world leaders meeting for the G8 in Japan, so that "they might put at the centre of their deliberations the needs of the weakest and poorest populations, whose vulnerability has grown today because of financial speculation and turbulence, and its perverse effects on the prices of food and energy. I hope that generosity and farsightedness may help lead to decisions capable of relaunching a fair process of comprehensive development, in protection of human dignity". The pope recalled that in recent days, many religious leaders have spoken out on the summit (including some episcopal conferences). The pontiff, uniting himself "with this pressing appeal for solidarity", asks together with them that the G8 may courageously take "all of the measures necessary to overcome the scourges of extreme poverty, hunger, illness, illiteracy, which still strike so much of humanity".

But Benedict XVI's first thought was for the 23rd World Youth Day, which will be celebrated in Sydney in mid-July. The pope will go to Australia on July 12, and will participate in the major events of the WYD: the welcoming celebration on July 15, the vigil on Saturday the 19th, and the Eucharistic celebration on Sunday the 20th. Benedict XVI is asking all Catholics to "feel themselves as participants in this new stage of the great pilgrimage of young people across the world, begun in 1985 by the Servant of God John Paul II".

"The next WYD", the pontiff continued, "promises to be a renewed Pentecost: in effect, already for a year the Christian communities have been preparing by following the trail that I marked out in the message on its theme, 'You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses' (Acts 1:8). This is the promise that Jesus made to his disciples after the resurrection, and which remains always valid and relevant in the Church: the Holy Spirit, awaited and welcomed in prayer, infuses into believers the capacity of being witnesses of Jesus and his Gospel. Breathing into the Church's sails, the divine Spirit always pushes it back out 'into the deep', from generation to generation, to carry to all the good news of God's love, fully revealed in Jesus Christ, who died and rose for us. I am certain that from every corner of the world, Catholics will unite with me and with the young people gathered together, as in a Cenacle, in Sydney, intensely invoking the Holy Spirit, so that he may flood hearts with interior light, with love for God and for neighbour, with courageous initiative in introducing the eternal message of Jesus in the various languages and cultures".

After the Marian prayer, and after the appeal to the leaders of the G8, Benedict XVI greeted "with affection" the dozens of children (many of them Chinese) and their chaperones from the "Soong Ching-ling Foundation of Italy". The Soong Ching-ling Foundation is a non-governmental organisation viewed very favourably by the government of Beijing. Founded in 1982, it is dedicated to the wife - a Christian - of Sun Yat Sen, the father of the Chinese republic; before her death in 1981, she was appointed the (only) female president of the People's Republic of China. The foundation works for the education and health of Chinese children, and extends its efforts into other parts of the world. "Love, concord, harmony, and solidarity", the pope said, "are the values that you want to promote in China and in the other countries of the world. Art and culture can unite peoples: children represent the future of the human family and are thus called to construct a more beautiful and more human world".

In the pope's words, there was the desire to send a message of friendship to the entire Chinese people: "your presence permits me to send a wish for peace and joy to all of your peers in China and in the world". And he added in the Chinese language: "Nimen hao!" (greetings to you!).

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