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Conscientious objectors are praised by the Pope

Pope John Paul II praised conscientious objection to war Sunday and criticized nations that pour money into the nuclear arms race while people in other nations starve.

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Speaking to 400 young Italians during an afternoon visit to a Rome parish, the Pope encouraged people to refuse military service.

''On the problem of conscientious objection, I would like to say I think it is a sign of maturity when people manage to accept another form of public service that is not military service,'' the Pope said. Vatican experts described the statement as the Pope's strongest and most comprehensive on the subject to date.

The Pope also called for a more equal distribution of wealth in the world, saying that it ''is the church's primary concern.''

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