VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis prayed for those killed during violent protests in Ethiopia, which left dozens of people dead.

Violence erupted in late October in Oromia — the most populated region of the north African nation. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed told reporters Nov. 3 that at least 76 people were killed during clashes fueled by ethnic or religious hostilities. The victims include 40 Orthodox Christians and 34 Muslims, he said, according to news.


The prime minister called for an end to using religion or ethnicity as a reason for conflict and urged young people to avoid religious and ethnic extremism.

After praying the Angelus with visitors in St. Peter’s Square Nov. 3, Pope Francis led a prayer for all those affected by the violence, including members of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church.

“I express my closeness to this church and its patriarch, dear brother Abuna Mathias,” the pope said.

“I ask you to pray for all victims of violence in this land,” he said before leading the recitation of a Hail Mary.

The pope also highlighted the importance of helping migrant workers by thanking the city and Diocese of San Severo in southern Italy for signing a recent agreement that lets per diem farmworkers obtain an ID card and residency permit.

The agreement lets the workers declare residency at parish churches and allows them to register with the local city clerk’s office.

“The possibility of having identity documents and residency papers will offer them renewed dignity and will allow them to leave illegal or exploitative conditions. Thank you so much to the city and all those who worked on this plan,” he said.