.- Pope Benedict prayed for peace in both Libya and Syria following Sundayâs Regina Coeli.
âI continue to follow with great concern the dramatic armed conflict in Libya that has caused a high number of casualties and suffering, especially among the civilian population.
âI renew an urgent appeal that the paths of negotiation and dialogue prevail over those of violence, with the help of international organizations that are working toward finding a solution to the crisis,â he stated on May 15.
The Popeâs comments came on a day that other key figures called for an intensification of military action in Libya. The head of the U.K.âs armed forces, General Sir David Richards, said he wants to see bombing restrictions on NATO forces eased. He now wants to target direct attacks upon the infrastructure propping up the regime of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.
NATOâs military action is currently guided by the terms of the U.N. resolution which only permit the use of force in protecting civilians. The Pope said heâs praying for those innocently caught up in the conflict which has been ongoing since February when rebels first took up arms against Colonel Gaddafi.
âI assure you, also, my sympathy and prayerful commitment with which the Church assists the local population, particularly by religious in hospitals.â
The Pope then turned his prayers and thoughts to Syria.
âMy thoughts also go to Syria, where it is urgent to restore a partnership geared towards harmony and unity. I ask God that there is no further bloodshed in the homeland of the great religions and civilizations, and urge the authorities and all citizens to spare no effort in seeking the common good and in accommodating the legitimate aspirations for a peaceful future and stability.â
Since March, the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is estimated to have killed over 800 pro-democracy campaigners and imprisoned 10,000 others.