Pope offers prayers for crisis in Libya

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI said the “worrying news from Libya” in the past few days caused him “deep trepidation and fear,” and he kept the North African country’s people in his prayers during his Lenten retreat March 13-19.

As U.S., British and French military launched strikes against Libya’s air defenses yesterday and again this morning in a U.N.-approved effort to protect pro-democracy protesters from retaliation by Col. Moammar Gadhafi, the pope said he was following the events with great concern and praying for those involved in “the dramatic situation.”

Speaking to pilgrims gathered today in St. Peter’s Square for the Sunday recitation of the Angelus, the pope said, “I address a pressing appeal to those who have political and military responsibilities” so they would take steps to ensure the safety of defenseless citizens and provide emergency assistance to those in need.

He also prayed that “peace and concord would soon reign over Libya and the entire north African region.”

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