Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday condemned the deadly Beirut car bombing that raised fears that Lebanon's fragile political system could be torn apart by the war raging in neighbouring Syria.
Denouncing the "terrible attack that occurred in Beirut" the pope said he "joins in prayer with the bereaved families and the sadness of all Lebanese," a Vatican statement said.
"The Holy Father condemns one more time the violence that is creating so much suffering," said the statement, quoting from a telegram the pontiff sent to Lebanon's Maronite Patriarch Bishara Rai.
The pontiff "asks God to give Lebanon and the entire region the gift of peace and reconciliation."
Following Friday's attack, the Vatican condemned the bombing "for its absurd murderous violence."
"It is to be hoped that this horrible event will not be an excuse for increased violence," said Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi. Instead, "Lebanon should represent, as the pope has said repeatedly, a message of peace and hope for its people and those of the entire region."
The car bombing struck during rush hour in Ashrafieh, a predominantly Christian district of the Lebanese capital, killing anti-Damascus internal intelligence chief General Wissam al-Hassan and seven others and wounding 86.
It marked one of the highest-profile killings in Beirut since the 2005 assassination of prime minister Rafiq Hariri.