Associated Press

June 15, 1997

Pope Pleads for Africa Peace

VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope John Paul II pleaded Sunday for an end to the fighting in Sierra Leone and Republic of Congo in his first major appearance after returning from a long trip to Poland.

``Violence does not cease to plunge certain peoples of Africa into the greatest suffering,'' he said, referring to civil wars in the two countries.

John Paul appeared in good form during his regular Sunday blessing in St. Peter's Square after his return Tuesday from an 11-day trip to his homeland.

Visiting shrines to the Virgin Mary in Poland ``meant returning to my roots and receiving new strength from them,'' he said.

The pope also saluted ``our (Eastern) Orthdox brothers,'' who celebrated Pentecost on Sunday.