Pope prays for all kids on UN rights anniversary

Stephen James Johnson

From the Associated Press.

VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI called Wednesday for greater international efforts to ensure basic human rights for children, saying he was praying for all young people who suffer.

Benedict made the comments during his weekly general audience as he marked the 20th anniversary of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, the first legally binding and most widely ratified international treaty to affirm human rights for all children.

“My thoughts go to all the children of the world, especially those who live in difficult conditions and suffer due to violence, abuses, sickness war or hunger,” Benedict said.

While urging all to join him in prayer, Benedict appealed to world governments to commit themselves to ensuring the treaty’s goals are met “so that the rights of children be recognized and their dignity ever more respected.”

The treaty’s 54 articles say children enjoy a full range of human rights, including civil, cultural, economic, political and social ones. It says they have the right to survival and protection from harmful influences, abuse and exploitation. It says they have the right to develop to their fullest potential and to participate fully in family, cultural and social life.

A series of initiatives are planned for this week around the world to mark the anniversary.