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Pope calls for more political rights in Africa

Pope John Paul II, during his current African tour, has urged black nations to ensure that all citizens can participate in the political life of their country.

Now on a six-nation, 10-day trip, the Pope has visited Zaire, Congo Republic, and Kenya, with stops at Ghana, Upper Volta, and Ivory Coast also on his itinerary.

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In what was viewed as a rebuke to African strong-man regimes, Pope John Paul said in Nairobi May 7: "In the state, citizens have a right and duty to share in the political life."

The Roman Catholic Pontiff also spoke of divisions among the Christian churches as "a scandal." Such divisions, he said, have dimmed the voice of the church in the mission lands of Africa.

The Pope made some of his more controversial statements about conditions in Africa during his private meeting with the diplomatic corps in Kenya.

He hit out at "ideological interference," which he described as "a subtle threat in the area of human dignity." He spoke of situations and systems in individual countries that are "marked by injustice and social injury."

He added that the state must reject anything unworthy of the freedom and human rights of its people, and attacked abuse of authority, corruption, tyranny , and the use of violence and terrorism.

He also declared the Roman Catholic Church would never cease to defend, as a fundmental right of every person, freedom of religion and freedom of conscience. He attacked atheism -- "an atheistic ideology can never be the moving and guiding force for advancing the well-being of individuals."

He attacked racial discrimination, "the persistent problem." He said there still remained too many instances of institutionalized discrimination "which is evil, no matter how it is practiced, no matter who does it, or why."

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On the question of refugees (3 million in Africa), the Pope appealed to all authorities to ensure that in their own nations rightful freedom is offered to all citizens "so that nobody will have to go looking for it elsewhere."

He praised the efforts of environmentalists and said the Organization of Africa Unity deserved every encouragement.

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