Libyan Bishop Calls for End to Hostilities

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The apostolic vicar in Tripoli called for a stop to the bloody conflict in Libya and urged dialogue among the various tribes there to help bring about peace, the Vatican missionary news agency reported.

Bishop Giovanni Martinelli, who serves the small Catholic community in the Tripoli area, said “we must find a way to end the war,” by emphasizing diplomacy over force, Fides reported April 16.

He said that for the first time in his 40 years in Libya, Muslim women had come into his church and urged him to help end the war, which was destroying their homes, families and way of life. Bishop Martinelli said that in Misurata, where there is a fierce battle for control between government and rebel forces, women were being raped and mutilated and families were trapped inside their homes.

Bishop Martinelli said, “we should exploit tribal relations,” by engaging the elders of tribes to “find the path of dialogue between the different components of Libyan society.”

Bishop Martinelli has criticized the Western airstrikes against forces loyal to Libya’s leader, Col. Moammar Gadhafi. The airstrikes began in March as a response to violent repression of an uprising by opponents to Gadhafi’s 40-year rule.

The bishop has said repeatedly that the campaign carried out by U.S., French and British bombers to establish a “no-fly zone” meant to stop government aircraft from attacking rebels is not useful in resolving Libyan hostilities. The result, he said, has been casualties and devastation among the civil population.

He praised Brazil, Russia, India and China, which reject the use of force and favor diplomacy.

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