Vatican City, 9 October 2013 (VIS) – In his greetings in various languages following today’s catechesis, the Pope addressed with special affection the bishops of the Church of the Alexandrian rite of Ethiopia and Eritrea, reiterating his closeness to them “in prayer and in suffering for the many sons of their land who lost their lives in the tragedy of Lampedusa”.

Among the French-speaking pilgrims, he made special mention of the bishops of the Regional Episcopal Conference of North Africa, urging them “to consolidate relations with our brothers of the Islamic faith”.

A large group of Croatian faithful from the diocese of Mostar-Duvno and Trebinje-Mrkan in Bosnia-Herzegovina was present in the square. “Being Catholic and being a missionary in your multi-ethnic and multi-confessional environment means loving all as Jesus loves us. Take this love to your homeland”, the Pope said.

Francis also recalled, during his greetings to Arabic-speaking faithful, that a year ago, on 10 October 2012, following his trip to Lebanon and his apostolic exhortation “Ecclesia in Medio Oriente: Communion and witness”, his predecessor Benedict XVI included Arabic among the languages of the general audience. The Synod Fathers had asked for this “to show to all Christians in the Middle East the closeness of the Catholic Church to its eastern sons”. “And today, talking about this expression, ‘I believe in the Catholic Church’”, he added, “I ask you to pray for peace in the Middle East: in Syria, in Iraq, in Egypt, in Lebanon and in the Holy Land, where the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, was born. Pray that the light of Christ reaches all hearts and all places, unto the ends of the earth”.