He did so during an appeal at the end of today’s General Audience, Nov. 4., privately streamed from the Pope’s Apostolic Library, again without public due to the resurgence of COVID19 in the country.
“In these days of prayer for the dead,” the Pope said, “we have remembered and continue to remember the helpless victims of terrorism, which is escalating in its cruelty throughout Europe.”
“I am thinking, in particular,” he explained, “of the serious attack in Nice in recent days, in a place of worship, and of the other one the day before yesterday in the streets of Vienna, which caused dismay and reprobation among the population and those who cherish peace and dialogue.”
The Holy Father said he entrusts the tragically departed to God’s mercy and expressed his spiritual closeness to their families and to all those who suffer “as a result of these deplorable events, which seek to compromise fraternal cooperation between religions through violence and hatred.”
Pope Francis has mourned the victims of the terrorist attack in Nice, France, in an Oct. 29 telegram and tweet expressing his closeness to the French people, and reminding that ‘terrorism and violence can never be accepted.’ He also called on the ‘beloved’ people of France to see others as brothers and sisters, and to react to evil with good.
“I am close to the Catholic community of #Nice,” his Tweet stated, “mourning the attack that sowed death in a place of prayer and consolation. I pray for the victims, for their families and for the beloved French people, that they may respond to evil with good.”
The attack in the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Nice — in which three people were killed –, was called a ‘terrorist attack’ by the French city’s Mayor.
Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, also sent a telegram to Bishop of Nice, André Marceau, on the Pope’s behalf.
“Informed of the savage attack that was perpetrated this morning in a church in Nice, causing the death of several innocent people,” it began, “His Holiness Pope Francis joins in prayer with the suffering of families affected and shares their grief.”
“The Pope asks the Lord,” it continued, “to bring them comfort and he commends the victims to His mercy.
“Condemning in the strongest possible way such violent acts of terror,” it added, Pope Francis “assures his closeness to the Catholic Community of France and all the French people,” calling for unity.
The telegram concludes with the Pope entrusting France to the protection of Notre-Dame, giving his heartfelt Apostolic Blessing to all those affected by the tragedy.
The Ministry of the Interior had foreseen the risk of attacks on religious sites, so much so as to reinforce the surveillance of churches and mosques. The tragedy followed the murder of Samuel Paty, the Professor accused of blasphemy by Muslims for having shown in class two irreverent cartoons against Mohammed published by Charlie Hebdo. While beginning saying this “is a moment of pain, in a time of confusion,” a Vatican statement the same day continued, underscoring: “Terrorism and violence can never be accepted.”
Pope Francis also issued a tweet on the tragedy: “I am close to the Catholic community of #Nice, mourning the attack that sowed death in a place of prayer and consolation. I pray for the victims, for their families and for the beloved French people, that they may respond to evil with good,” it said.
Turning to Vienna, the Pope, through Cardinal Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin, to the Archbishop of Vienna, Dominican Cardinal Christoph Schonborn.
“Deeply affected,” the telegram began, “the Holy Father Francis learned the news of the violent acts in Vienna, which brought death and pain to innocent persons.”
His Holiness expressed “his profound participation” to the victims’ family members and the whole Austrian people; moreover, he said he is close to the wounded and prays for their speedy healing.
“Pope Francis entrusts the victims to God’s mercy and implores the Lord, that violence and hatred may cease and peaceful coexistence be promoted in the society. His Holiness accompanies all those that have been affected by this tragedy with his heartfelt Blessing,” it concluded.
Cardinal Schonborn condemned coordinated attacks last night, Nov. 2, 2020, on synagogues and Jewish centers in the city, in a statement on the website of Austria’s Catholic Bishops’ Conference.
In at least six parts of the city center, shooters killed at least three people and wounded at least 15 others.
“Whatever the matrix of the attack in Vienna, it must be clear that blind violence cannot be justified by anything,” Cardinal Schonborn said.
“In these dramatic hours,” he expressed in an interview with Kathpress, “I pray with many others who are following the tragic events in the heart of our city through the media, for the victims, the emergency services and that there will be no more bloodshed.”
Noting he was deeply moved by what he witnessed, he stressed: “The fact that shots were fired directly in front of the city temple of the Israelite religious community reminds me of the bloody attack on the synagogue in 1981. Whatever the background to this time’s attack, it must be clear that blind violence cannot be justified by anything,”
Cardinal Schonborn also condemned the violence and expressed his closeness to those who lost their loved ones on Twitter. He recently convoked the city’s religious leaders to meet together in light of the recent events.