The "news coming from Bolivia, where a grave crisis is taking place, is causing profound concern," the Pope said at the end of today's general audience in St. Peter's Square. Many are "dead and wounded," he said.

"I wish to express my spiritual solidarity to those who are suffering, while I invite all to pray so that the Lord will inspire the disputing parties to favor civil dialogue and to seek just solutions, in respect of the law, to the problems that afflict the nation," the Holy Father said before some 16,000 pilgrims.

The protests, organized by Indian and trade union groups including peasants and coca cultivators, were triggered by a plan to export natural gas through a Chilean port.