Pope: Nothing can justify terrorist attacks Print E-mail
Around the Diocese
Written by Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service   
Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015 -- 12:00 AM
paris girl candle
A child lights a candle in Republique square in Paris November 14 in memory of victims of terrorist attacks. Coordinated attacks the previous evening claimed the lives of 129 people. The Islamic State claimed responsibility. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Using God’s name to try to justify violence and murder is “blasphemy,” Pope Francis said November 15, speaking about the terrorist attacks on Paris.

“Such barbarity leaves us dismayed, and we ask ourselves how the human heart can plan and carry out such horrible events,” the pope said after reciting the “Angelus” prayer with visitors in St. Peter’s Square.

Attacks by terrorists

The attacks in Paris November 13 -- attacks the French government said were carried out by three teams of Islamic State terrorists -- caused the deaths of at least 129 people and left more than 350 injured, many of them critically. A suicide bomber blew himself up outside a soccer stadium, gunmen attacked customers at cafes and restaurants, and a team of terrorists gunned down dozens of people at a concert.

The attacks, Pope Francis said, were an “unspeakable affront to the dignity of the human person.”

“The path of violence and hatred cannot resolve the problems of humanity, and using the name of God to justify this path is blasphemy,” he said.

Pope Francis asked the thousands of people who gathered at St. Peter’s for the Sunday midday prayer to observe a moment of silence and to join him in reciting a “Hail Mary.”

“May the Virgin Mary, mother of mercy, give rise in the hearts of everyone thoughts of wisdom and proposals for peace,” he said. “We ask her to protect and watch over the dear French nation, the first daughter of the Church, over Europe and the whole world.”

“Let us entrust to the mercy of God the innocent victims of this tragedy,” the pope said.

Pope ‘shaken and pained’

Speaking November 14, the day after the terrorist attacks, Pope Francis had told the television station of the Italian bishops’ conference, “I am shaken and pained.”

“I don’t understand, but these things are difficult to understand, how human beings can do this,” the pope said. “That is why I am shaken, pained, and am praying.”

The director of the television station recalled how the pope has spoken many times about a “third world war being fought in pieces.”

“This is a piece,” the pope responded. “There are no justifications for these things.”

On social media, Islamic State militants claimed responsibility, but Pope Francis insisted there can be no “religious or human” excuse for killing innocent people and sowing terror. “This is not human.”

French authorities reported November 14 that eight terrorists were dead after the night of attacks; six of them committed suicide and two were killed by police, who stormed the concert hall where the terrorists had taken hostages and where the majority of victims died.

Cardinal calls for calm and prayers

Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois of Paris issued a statement calling for calm and for prayers, not only for the Paris victims, but also for the victims of recent terrorist attacks in Lebanon and in Africa.

“May no one allow himself to be defeated by panic and hatred,” the cardinal said. “Let us ask for the grace of being peacemakers. We must never lose our hope for peace if we work for justice.”

Mass in memory of victims

With some 1,500 inside Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral and hundreds more gathered outside November 15, Cardinal Vingt-Trois celebrated a special Mass in memory of the victims. As the cathedral bells tolled a death knell, police patrolled the square in front of the cathedral and checked people as they entered the Paris landmark for Mass.

The cardinal told the assembly -- which included government officials and ambassadors from a variety of nations -- that the Mass was intended as a sign of sharing the pain of the victims and of praying for them, their families, for Paris, and for France.

“The savage killings this black Friday plunged entire families into despair, and this despair is all the more profound because there can be no rational explanation that would justify the indiscriminate execution of dozens of anonymous people,” the cardinal said.

The only Christian response, he said, is to be “messengers of hope in the heart of human suffering.”

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