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Pope Benedict Expresses Concern About Violence in Libya and Pakistan

  • Sabina Castelfranco

Pope Benedict XVI delivers his message from his studio window overlooking St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, March 6, 2011

Pope Benedict XVI delivers his message from his studio window overlooking St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, March 6, 2011

Pope Benedict XVI is expressing concern about the ongoing unrest in Libya and last week’s assassination of Pakistan’s only Christian cabinet minister.

Pope Benedict lamented the deaths and humanitarian crisis caused by the fighting in Libya between forces loyal to Colonel Moammar Gadhafi and rebels demanding his ouster.

Addressing the faithful gathered in Saint Peter’s Square to hear his words, Benedict said his heartfelt thoughts went to Libya, where recent clashes have caused many deaths and a growing humanitarian crisis.

They were Pope Benedict’s first public comments on the fighting in the North African country.

He assured his prayers and his closeness to all the victims and to those who find themselves in situations of anguish, and he called for aid and help for the stricken populations.

Pope Benedict also turned his thoughts to Pakistan.

He said he is praying the assassination of Pakistan's sole Christian cabinet minister last week will spur efforts to safeguard religious freedom for all people.

Pope Benedict had met at the Vatican last year with Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan's minority affairs minister. Bhatti, a Catholic, was battling to stop abuses under Pakistan's blasphemy laws. Bhatti was shot dead Wednesday.

Pope Benedict told the public in St. Peter's Square Sunday he hopes Bhatti's "moving sacrifice" will wake up consciences to find the courage to work for religious freedom and equal dignity for all in Pakistan.

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