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An antidote to violence

· To the bishops of North Africa on their 'ad limina' the Pope recalls that differences must be accepted as riches and at the Angelus he calls for peace in Syria and Iraq and for an end to social tension in Venezuela ·

Pope Francis paid tribute to “the courage, fidelity and perseverance” of the bishops, priests, consecrated and laypeople who continue to stay in Libya despite the many dangers. “They are authentic Gospel witnesses”, he said to the Episcopal Conference of North African Bishops, received in audience on Monday morning, 2 March. “I warmly thank them”, he continued, “and I encourage you to continue your efforts, contributing to peace and reconciliation in your entire region”.

To the bishops — which in addition to those from Libya include the pastors of Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia — the Pontiff especially underlined the need to increase dialogue with other religions, stating that “the most effective antidote against any form of violence is education”. This statement was particularly revealing in light of the Pope's appeal at the Angelus in St Peter's Square on Sunday. In manifesting his concern for the violence in Syria and Iraq, Francis invited the faithful to pray “for an end to the intolerable brutality of which they are victims”. At the same time, he added, “I ask everyone, according to their ability, to work to alleviate the suffering of those who are afflicted, often only because of the faith they profess”.

The Holy Father also spoke about the violence regarding to the intense social tensions which are crossing Venezuela. After recalling the 14-year-old student who was killed by a gunshot to the head by an agent of the riot police in San Cristobal, in the State of Táchira, the Pope called for everyone's commitment to reject the temptation of confrontation and to ensure 'respect for the dignity of every person and the sacredness of human life”. He encouraged them to “resume a common path for the good of the country, opening spaces for meeting and sincere and constructive dialogue”.

The Pope's address to the bishops of North Africa

The Pope at the Angelus on Sunday in Italian

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St. Peter’s Square

Sept. 23, 2018

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