VATICAN CITY (AP) - Pope Benedict XVI has issued an urgent appeal to military and political leaders to consider the safety of Libyan civilians and ensure they have access to emergency aid in his first comments on the conflict.
Benedict said the hostilities had sparked "great fear and alarm in me" and said he was praying for peace.
The pope didn't identify which political or military leaders he was appealing to in comments delivered at his traditional Sunday blessing.
The Vatican has been remarkably quiet about the mounting tensions in Libya and decision to authorize military force to halt Moammar Gadhafi's crackdown. In the run-up to the Iraq war eight years ago, Pope John Paul II and top Vatican cardinals voiced emphatic opposition to U.S.-led military action.