01/30/2005, 00.00
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Children and young people can be peacemakers too, says the Pope

World Leprosy Day is remembered.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – John Paul II speaks again about peace. At the beginning of the year, he had called on the international community to "defeat evil with goodness". In today's Angelus, he called on the young members of the Azione Cattolica to become 'peacemakers'.

"We must," the Holy Father said in a tired voice, "defeat injustice with justice, lies with the truth, vengeance with forgiveness, hatred with love".

Parish churches, associations, movements and groups are the places where a peace-centred education can be nourished.

At the end of the ceremony, the young people thanked the Pope, who was visibly happy, and two children standing near him released two doves, symbols of peace.

Here are the Pope's remarks before the Marian prayer:

"What a pleasure it is today to welcome so many young people from the Azione Cattolica, who are bringing to a close 'Peace Month'. I greet you with affection dear boys and girls from the ACR!

"In today's Gospel Jesus says: "Blessed are the peacemakers" (Cf Mt, 5: 9). As I said in my recent message for World Peace Day, the small ones can be peacemakers too. They, too, can train to engage others in dialogue and learn how to "conquer evil with good".

"We must defeat injustice with justice, lies with the truth, vengeance with forgiveness, hatred with love. This is not something that can be improvised; it is something that must be learnt from infancy onwards. It is an education based on thoughtful teachings and especially good role models in the family, school and every other walk of life.

"Parish churches, oratories, associations, Church movements and groups must become privileged places where peace and love are taught, a place where young people can grow up together.

"Let us pray to Mary, Queen of peace, that She may help young people, who want peace so much, become courageous and tenacious peacemakers."

Following the Angelus, John Paul II said:

"Today, we are celebrating World Leprosy Day. This disease continues to strike millions of people, especially children, in the poorest parts of the world.

"To all of these brothers and sisters I send special greetings and offer my prayers which also include all those who, one way or another, help people living with leprosy.

"It is my hope that the international community will be able to completely eradicate this social ill.

"I greet the pilgrims who have come here today, especially those from the Italian Association of Friends of Raoul Follereau, and wish everyone a good Sunday."

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