On Sunday, Pope Francis prayed for fruitful peace negotiations taking place at an international level to end years of hostilities and strife in Libya.
He turned his thoughts to a group of Italian fishermen who were seized in September by Libyan patrol boats and accused of fishing in Libyan territorial waters. The group of fishermen are still detained in Benghazi.
Speaking after the recitation of the Angelus prayer in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope said, “I pray for the various talks taking place at the international level, that they may be relevant for the future of Libya.”
“The time has come to stop all forms of hostility and encourage dialogue that will lead to peace and stability in the country,” he said.
Mentioning the plight of the fishermen and his closeness to their families, he asked those present in the square to pray together for the fishermen and for Libya, in silence.
“I would like to address a word of encouragement and support to the fishermen arrested more than a month ago in Libya and to their families,” the Pope said. He also invoked Our Lady Star of the Sea to keep the hope alive that they will soon be able to embrace their loved ones again after being released.
Oil-rich Libya was plunged into chaos when a NATO-backed uprising in 2011 toppled long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi, who was later killed. The country has since split between rival eastern and western-based administrations.