Pope offers support to UN campaign to end use of child soldiers


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VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI offered his public support to the United Nations' efforts to prevent the recruitment and deployment of child soldiers and said he prays each day for suffering children around the world.

At the end of his weekly general audience June 24, the pope greeted Radhika Coormaraswamy, the U.N. secretary-general's representative for children and armed conflict, who was accompanied by Grace Akallo, a former child soldier, and Sacred Heart Sister Rosemary Nyerumbe, who runs a center for former child soldiers in northern Uganda.

The pope told the group he had deep "appreciation for the commitment to defend child victims of violence and weapons." He said, "I remember all the children of the world, especially those who are exposed to fear, abandonment, hunger, abuse, sickness and death. The pope is close to all of these little victims and remembers them always in his prayers."