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Pope urges UN poverty drive despite banking crisis
"I would like to invite them again to take up and implement with courage the measures needed to wipe out extreme poverty, hunger, ignorance and the scourge of pandemics, which especially affect the most vulnerable," he said after his regular Sunday mass.

The United Nations General Assembly will study what progress has been made towards reaching the Millennium Development Goals set in 2000, which aim to reduce poverty and hunger and improve education, equality, health care and the environment by 2015.

The pope acknowledged that such efforts require sacrifices at this time of global economic difficulties but said they would produce great benefits for needy countries "and for the peace and well-being of the entire planet."

Speaking to pilgrims at his summer residence Castelgandolfo, in the hills outside Rome, the pontiff also sent a message to the countries around the Caribbean and the southeast United States damaged by hurricanes Ike and Gustav this month.

The pope singled out Haiti, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Texas as the worst-hit areas and told their populations he had remembered them in his prayers and that he hoped "solidarity and brotherhood will prevail over other factors" in relief efforts.


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