Darfur Refugees Hear of Pope's Concern

Cardinal Sepe Visiting Sudan

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NYALA, Sudan, FEB. 28, 2006 (Zenit.org).- A Vatican official is telling refugees of the Darfur region about Benedict XVI's sense of solidarity with them.



Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, is in Sudan in part to relay that message.

Only three months ago, Benedict XVI added his "voice to the cry of those who are suffering" and assured them of his and the Holy See's commitment to the peoples of Darfur, while at the same time encouraging reconciliation in Sudan.

Cardinal Sepe, during a visit to a Christian community in a refugee camp in the western region of Darfur -- the last stage of his pastoral visit to the African country -- emphasized: "I am really happy to bring you the blessing of the Holy Father, Benedict XVI."

"I want to assure you that the Holy Father follows with particular attention all that is happening in Darfur and continues praying for your country, tormented by hatred, war and religious extremism," the cardinal said. "The whole Church is with you and supports you with faith and charity."

Long-running strife

"My presence in this refugee camp is to show the Church's solidarity with you, exhorting all people of good will to intervene, not only by offering you hospitality, listening, care and protection, but also appealing to nations and the international community to adopt decisive actions to stop this horrible situation," Cardinal Sepe stressed, as reported by the Vatican congregation's Fides news agency.

Clashes in Darfur have claimed at least 180,000 lives, according to humanitarian agencies. More than 2 million people have been displaced. Close to 200,000 refugees have fled to neighboring Chad.

This conflict dates back to February 2003. The Sudanese government was accused of financing the "janjaweed" militias which have attacked the anti-Khartoum civilian population.

This is added to the consequences of two decades of civil war, primarily between the Muslims in the north and the Christians and animists in the south.