Vatican Stamp Signals Solidarity With AIDS Children

Theme Echoes Pope's Lenten Message

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 8, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The Vatican Post Office has issued a stamp on the theme of child-victims of AIDS, describing the initiative as an expression of solidarity.



The Holy See announced the issuance Jan. 29 during the press conference for the presentation of John Paul II's 2004 Lenten message on the theme: "Whoever Receives One Such Child in My Name Receives Me" (Matthew 18:5).

In the message the Pope referred to the "terrible repercussions" of AIDS in Africa.

"It is said," he wrote, "that millions of persons are now afflicted by this scourge, many of whom were infected from birth. Humanity cannot close its eyes in the face of so appalling a tragedy!"

The hidden eyes of the children represented on the stamp express the consequences of humanity's indifference to this drama.

The cost of the stamp is 45 euro cents; 200,000 sheets, of six stamps each, have been printed.

Income from the stamp's sale will be allocated by the Vatican Philatelic and Numismatic Office, through the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum," to a work of charity and support for child-victims of AIDS in Africa.

Confirming the issuance of the stamps, Korazym.org says that in 2002, some 600,000 children died of AIDS, an illness that has left 11 million orphans in Africa. It is estimated that by 2010 the number of orphans will rise to 20 million in that continent.

Three-quarters of AIDS sufferers live in sub-Saharan Africa. Eight out of 10 AIDS orphans live in that region.