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Vatican pledges support to new government on death of Gadhafi

VATiCAN CITY (CNS): The Vatican says in a statement released late on October 20 that the death of Libyan strongman, Moammar Gadhafi, marks the end of a “harsh and oppressive regime” that was based on power instead of human dignity. 

It expresses hope that the bloodshed will end in the North African country and that the new government will open a rebuilding phase based on a spirit of inclusion and social justice. 

The statement was released several hours after Gadhafi was reported to have been killed in his coastal hometown of Sirte, where he had barricaded himself in with loyalist troops.

His death came after months of bloody civil strife and NATO airstrikes in support of Libyan rebels. 

The Vatican says the Libyan conflict has been too long and tragic and should prompt reflection on the “cost of immense human suffering” that accompanies the collapse of systems not founded on respect for human rights. 

The statement encourages the new Libyan government to try to prevent further violence caused by a spirit of revenge and to begin a programme of pacification.

It says that the international community should provide generous aid toward the reconstruction of the country.

The minority Catholic community in Libya will continue to offer “its witness and its unselfish service, especially in the areas of charity and health care,” it says.

The Vatican is undertaking to work for the Libyan people in the international diplomatic arena. 

The statement says that the Vatican considers the transitional government to be the legitimate representative of the Libyan people and it has made contacts with the new authorities through the Libyan embassy to the Vatican, at the United Nations and in Libya. 

It says the apostolic nuncio to Libya, Archbishop Tommaso Caputo, who resides in Malta, was in Libya in early October for talks with the provisional prime minister, Mahmoud Jibril, and other officials. 

“In these diverse encounters, both sides underlined the importance of the diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Libya. 

The Holy See had the opportunity to renew its support for the Libyan people and its support for the transition,” the Vatican says. 

The officials of Libya’s new government have expressed appreciation for the humanitarian appeals from Pope Benedict XVI and for the Church’s service in Libya, in particular the work of the 13 religious communities in hospitals and assistance centres. 

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