July 3, 2005

Beating African poverty must be G8 goal, Pope says

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Benedict said on Sunday hehoped this week's meeting of world power leaders in Scotlandwill bring genuine and long-lasting relief to Africa.

"My heartfelt hope is that this important meeting issuccessful, that it leads to a sharing out of the costs ofreducing debt and puts in motion concrete measures to eradicatepoverty and promote genuine development in Africa," he said.

Leaders from the Group of Eight industrialized countriesmeet in Scotland from July 6-8 with aid, debt relief andclimate change at the top of their agenda.

The Pope's message came a day after the huge Live 8 globalrock concert, held to step up pressure on the world's wealthynations to cancel much of Africa's debt and boost aid.

Addressing crowds in St Peter's Square after his weeklyAngelus blessing, the Pope said that Africa's problems wereoften overlooked.

In a message released on Saturday, the Pope urged the G8leaders to honor past commitments to help the world's poor.

"God intended the earth and all it contains for the use ofeveryone and of all peoples," the Pope said in a message sentto Scottish Cardinal Keith Patrick O'Brien.

"For this reason, people from the world's richest countries... should urge their leaders to fulfil the pledges made toreduce world poverty, especially in Africa, by the year 2015,"he added.