Pope Francis, along with Bishop Andre Marceau of Nice, France, are condemning last night’s terrorist attack in the idyllic French Riviera that left 84 people dead and scores wounded.
The National Catholic Register is reporting on a statement issued by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, on behalf of Pope Francis, which reads:
“While France was celebrating its national day, blind violence struck the country in Nice, causing many casualties, including children. Condemning such acts again, His Holiness Pope Francis expresses his deep sorrow and his spiritual closeness to the French people. He entrusts God’s mercy on those who lost their lives, and shares deeply the pain of bereaved families. He expresses his sympathy to those injured and to all those who contributed to the rescue, asking the Lord to support each person in this ordeal. Imploring from God the gift of peace and harmony, he invokes the benefits of divine blessings on grieving families and all the French people.”
Just a few hours earlier, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi also issued a statement in which he said that the Church condemns “in the strongest terms all manifestations of homicidal madness, hatred, terrorism and every attack against peace.”
Thus far, 84 people have died as a result of the attack which involved a loner named Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, 31, a career criminal known to police, who was reportedly depressed after his wife left him.
Bouhlel approached the Bastille Day festivities taking place along the Promenade de Anglais in a white truck loaded with guns and grenades. After telling police that he was delivering ice cream, he proceeded to drive down the Promenade, then pick up speed shortly before plowing into the crowds on the sidewalk. Witnesses say he zig-zagged his way down the Promenade for nearly a mile, killing as many people as possible before he was shot and killed by police.
Thus far, 84 people, including 10 children, have died from their injuries with 18 others said to be in critical condition in local hospitals.
“Nice was struck yesterday by a heinous attack,” said the Bishops’ Conference of France. “Men, women and children were blindly killed while they were coming to celebrate July 14, 2016 with the entire country.”
They are inviting all Catholics in France to pray for the victims and their families at Mass this Sunday, July 17.
“This tragedy adds to the sad list of terrorist acts that have marred our country and other countries in the world for many months,” the statement continued. “Whatever the reason, this barbarism is unacceptable, intolerable. Our country was hurt while living a moment of national unity. More than ever, national solidarity must be stronger than terrorism.In the pain of the day, we need to keep the certainty that unity is greater than division.”
The Bishop of Nice, Monsignor Andre Marceau, said “nothing can justify this madness” and reminded his wounded flock that “Death will not have the last word.”
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