VATICAN CITY (CNS) — In the wake of deadly protests in Iraq, Pope Francis called on the people and their leaders to take the path of dialogue to find answers to their nation’s problems.

At the end of his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square Oct. 30, the pope said his thoughts were with “beloved Iraq, where protest demonstrations going on this month have caused numerous deaths and injuries.”

Expressing his condolences for victims and his closeness to their families and those who have been wounded, he said, “I invite the authorities to listen to the cry of the people who are asking for a dignified and peaceful life.”

The pope also urged all Iraqis, “with the support of the international community, to pursue the path of dialogue and reconciliation and to seek fair solutions to the country’s challenges and problems.”

“I pray that this martyred people may find peace and stability after years of war and violence, where they have suffered so much.”

Anti-government protests broke out across Iraq in early October with demonstrators demanding government action to create jobs, improve public services and end corruption.