Pope Appeals for Calm in Nigeria


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(10 Mar 10 - RV) At the end of his General Audience this Wednesday Pope Benedict XVI launched an urgent appeal for calm in Nigeria.

Last weekend an estimated 500 civilians, many of them women and children, were massacred in the latest reprisal attack in an ongoing tribal conflict that is devastating the central Plateau state.

On Wednesday Pope Benedict said: "My condolences go the victims of the violence and bloodshed in Nigeria that did not spare even defenceless children. Once again I repeat with a heavy heart that violence does not solve conflicts, but only increases it's tragic consequences. I appeal to those in the country who have civilian and religious authority, to strive for security and the peaceful coexistence of all people. Finally I also express my closeness to the pastors and faithful and I pray that Nigerians, strong and firm in hope, be authentic witnesses of reconciliation.

The Pope also spoke of those affected by a recent earthquake in Turkey offering his prayer for the victims and their families. The Holy Father concluded by appealing to the international community to contribute promptly and generously to relief efforts.