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Libyan Bishop Invokes Pope John Paul in Peace Prayer

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Children stand at a damaged area, which the Libyan government said was from a coalition air strike, at the house of Saif Al-Arab Gadhafi, son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, in Tripoli on 1 May. Bishop Giovanni Martinelli of Tripoli said he was praying to Blessed Pope John Paul II for peace and an end to civilian casualties in the North African country. (Photo: CNS/Ismail Zitouny, Reuters) 

03 May 2011 – by John Thavis

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The top church official in Libya said he was praying to Blessed John Paul II for peace and an end to civilian casualties in the North African country.

Bishop Giovanni Martinelli of Tripoli also questioned the morality of the NATO airstrikes against the residence of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. The attack April 30 reportedly killed one of Gadhafi’s sons and three of his grandchildren, but the Libyan leader was said to be unharmed.

“The bombs, as precise as the aim can be, lead to civilian victims. Bombs are immoral. I wonder also whether it is moral to kill a head of state. What right do we have to do so?” Bishop Martinelli told the Vatican missionary news agency Fides April 30.

He said several people had reported to him earlier that day several other bombings had caused civilian casualties.

“They hit Sirte, Zentani and Misurata. In this last place the fighting continues. I do not know who hit the civilians, but I know that the situation in Misurata is dramatic,” Bishop Martinelli said. He said he hoped to be able to visit wounded civilians in the hospital.

“Even the statement on behalf of the coalition countries that bomb Libya, who want to protect civilians from being attacked, does not correspond to the truth, because these bombings cause victims among civilians who they claim to want to protect. It is necessary first of all to reach a cease-fire,” he said.

“We ask the intercession of John Paul II that can work miracles. I remember that it was this pope who opened diplomatic relations with Libya in 1997, when this country was under international embargo,” the bishop said.

“I am praying ceaselessly so that, through his intercession, a peaceful solution may be found to the crisis,” he said. He said one of Blessed John Paul’s teachings was that “war cannot bring peace.”