CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy - Pope Benedict yesterday appealed for the release of South Korean hostages held in Afghanistan.
He also condemned the exploitation of innocent people as a "grave violation of human dignity".
Taliban rebels abducted the Christian volunteers from a bus south of Kabul 10 days ago. They killed the group's leader on Wednesday and say the remaining 22 hostages will meet a similar fate unless Taliban prisoners are freed.
The Pope told a crowd gathered at his summer residence outside Rome: "Unfortunately the usual practice of exploiting innocent people for their own ends is spreading among armed groups.
"It is a grave violation of human dignity that clashes with every elementary norm of civility and rights and gravely offends divine law."
The Pope, who began the passage with a reference to Afghanistan, appealed to the "authors of such criminal acts" to stop their activities and return their victims unharmed. - Reuters.