In a telegram to the bishop of Nice, signed by the Vatican Secretary of State, Pope Francis condemns “in the strongest possible way such violent acts of terror” and blesses “all those touched by the tragedy”. The pontiff is also praying “for people to look at each other again as brothers and sisters and not as enemies”.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis sent a message through the Vatican Secretary of state Pietro Parolin, joining “in prayer with the suffering of families affected and shares their grief.”
The pontiff was “Informed of the savage attack that was perpetrated this morning in a church in Nice, causing the death of several innocent people,” reads the telegram to Bishop André Marceau of Nice.
A still unknown man entered Notre Dame basilica this morning wielding a knife, which he used to cut the throat of a woman who was praying. He also killed the basilica’s caretaker and wounded several other people. Another woman, who fled to a nearby bar, later died of her wounds.
During the confrontation with police, the attacker was also seriously wounded. Whilst being treated, he kept shouting “Allahu Akhbar!”
“Condemning in the strongest possible way such violent acts of terror,” Pope Francis “assures his closeness to the Catholic community of France and all the people of France, whom he urges to be united.”
“[E]ntrusting France to the protection of Our Lady,” the pontiff gives his “heartfelt” blessing “to all those touched by the tragedy”.
Earlier, the director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, told journalists that the Pope “is praying for the victims and their loved ones, for the violence to stop, for people to look at each other again as brothers and sisters and not as enemies, so that the beloved people of France can respond to evil with goodness and united.”
For his part, director Bruni described the situation as “a moment of pain in a time of confusion,” noting that “Terrorism and violence can never be accepted”. Sadly, he added, “Today’s attack sowed death in a place of love and consolation, the house of the Lord”.