Vatican City (AsiaNews) – An end to the use of arms and space for dialogue in Libya and the Middle East. Benedict XVI’s "trepidation" is growing over the unfolding events in the Mediterranean basin and on Sunday he appealed for people to listen "to even the weakest signals" of openness to dialogue.

This was the appeal launched by the Pope following the midday Angelus prayer, following his morning visit to the site of the Ardeatine cave massacre, the place where 335 Italians were killed by the Nazis.

On his return to the Vatican, where 30 thousand people waited for him in St. Peter's Square, the Pope then said that "faced with the increasingly dramatic reports from Libya, my trepidation for the safety and security of civilians and my concern for the unfolding situation, currently signed by the use of arms, is growing. In times of greatest tension, the need to put to use all means available to diplomacy becomes increasingly urgent and to support even the weakest signs of openness and willingness on both sides involved, for reconciliation in search of peaceful and lasting solutions. In view of this, as I lift my prayer to the Lord for a return to harmony in Libya and the entire North African region, I also appeal to the international bodies and all those in positions of military and political responsibility, for the immediate start of dialogue and the suspension of the use of weapons”.

"Finally, my thoughts turn to the authorities and citizens of the Middle East, where in recent days there have been several incidents of violence, so that the path of dialogue and reconciliation be privileged in the search for a just and brotherly coexistence ".

At the Ardeatine Caves, the Pope urged believers to "invoke Divine mercy, which alone can fill the void, the abyss opened by the men who, when driven by the blind violence, deny their dignity as children of God and brotherhood with each other." At the site of a Nazi massacre of March 24, 1944, which claimed 335 victims, the Pope placed a basket of flowers in front of the memorial plaque and inside the shrine, he knelt before the tombs. Then, together with Chief Rabbi of the Jewish community of Rome, Riccardo Di Segni he recited a prayer for the dead.

Emerging, Benedict XVI greeted those present, including the families of the victims, who had invited him to visit the shrine.

In a brief speech, the Pope spoke of a testimony, "found precisely here in the Ardeatine Caves. A sheet of paper on which a victim had written: 'God my great Father, we pray so that you can protect Jews from barbaric persecution. 1 Our Father, 10 Hail Marys, 1 Glory Be '. At that moment, so tragic, so inhuman - said Benedict XVI - in the heart of that person was the highest invocation 'God my great Father'. Father of all! Just as on the lips of Jesus, dying on the cross: 'Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit'. In that name, 'Father', is the sure guarantee of hope, the possibility of a different future, free from hatred and revenge, a future of freedom and fraternity, for Rome, Italy, Europe, the world. "

"Yes, wherever he is, on every continent, to whatever nation he belongs, man is the son of that Father in heaven, he is brother to all humanity. But this being the son and brother is not a given. This, unfortunately, is revealed even by the Ardeatine Caves. We must want it, we must say yes to good and no to evil. We must believe in the God of love and life, and reject any false image of God, that betrays His holy name and thus betrays man, made in His image. "

"Therefore, in this place, painful memorial of the most horrendous evil, the real answer is to join hands as brothers, and say: Our Father, we believe in You, and with the strength of Your love we want to walk together, in peace, in Rome, Italy, in Europe, the whole world. "