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Church leaders pray for Manchester bomb victims

By Ann Marie Foley - 23 May, 2017

Pope Francis has expressed condolences for the victims of last night’s terrorist attack in Manchester, England.

A telegram sent by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin on behalf of the Holy Father has stated:

“His Holiness Pope Francis was deeply saddened to learn of the injury and tragic loss of life caused by the barbaric attack in Manchester, and he expresses his heartfelt solidarity with all those affected by this senseless act of violence. He commends the generous efforts of the emergency and security personnel, and offers the assurance of his prayers for the injured, and for all who have died. Mindful in a particular way of those children and young people who have lost their lives, and of their grieving families, Pope Francis invokes God’s blessings of peace, healing and strength upon the nation.”

The local Bishop of Salford Rt Revd John Arnold said in a statement: “The citizens of Manchester and the members of the Catholic community are united in condemning the attack on the crowds at the Manchester Arena. Such an attack can have no justification.”

He said that everyone is joined in prayer for all those who have died, for the injured and their families, and for all affected by this tragedy.

“We must all commit ourselves to working together, in every way, to help the victims and their families and to build and strengthen our community solidarity.”

He thanked the emergency services for their prompt and speedy response which saved lives.

In an interview with Vatican Radio he said that there are Catholics among the victims. He recalled Pope Francis’ words to go to the ‘peripheries’ and said that in this case it means to reach out to those who are traumatised, injured and bereaved. He also expressed the need to strengthen community cohesion in what is a very cosmopolitan city.

“Where there is a terrorist attack, it is an attack on all of us, and an attack against peaceful co-existence and purposeful living that we need to be living in our city,” he said.

He praised the response of the people of the city who have offered all sorts of help, such as free taxi journeys home, hotel rooms, and so much more.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, expressed in a statement his “shock and dismay” at the killing of young and innocent people in the Manchester Arena, feelings he said were shared by all people of good will –Catholics and many others – who are praying “earnestly” for those who have been killed, for the bereaved, and for grieving loved ones.

“May God, in His mercy, strengthen and sustain us and keep us firmly united in the face of all evil,” he said.

At home in Ireland President Michael D. Higgins has offered his sympathy and that of the Irish people, stating: “This cowardly attack on innocent citizens will have appalled all those who care for democracy, freedom and the right to live and enjoy the public space.

“Manchester has been home to the Irish and so many nationalities for centuries and at this terrible time I want to send the people of this great and welcoming city not only our sympathy but our solidarity.”

His message is being sent to the Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, and he will also write to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth.

Also in Ireland Archbishop Eamon Martin offered prayers for those killed and injured in the Manchester bombing.

Stating that he has sent a message this morning to Bishop John Arnold, Bishop of Salford, he said “Such a violent and brutal attack inflicts terror and long-lasting trauma on children and families and leaves a wound that can only be healed by compassion, love and solidarity.”

He added: “Such an awful attack challenges us all to resolve personally to build peace, solidarity and hope everywhere. Only in this way can the hearts of those who plan and perpetrate such violent and pointless attacks be changed.”

He said he would remember the victims of this attack and their families in Masses and prayers, and said that the prayerful solidarity of people across Ireland goes to the people of Manchester at this sad time.

Religious orders and groups have also been praying for victims and offering sympathies and prayers. In a short message on Facebook the Cistercian sisters at Glencairn Abbey stated: “Praying today especially in Glencairn for the dead and injured in the Manchester bombing last night – and for an end to terrorism everywhere. Pax!”

ISIS has claimed responsibility for the bomb. At the time of writing it was known that 22 people had died and 59 were injured, many of whom were children. They and many parents were attending a concert by pop star Ariana Grande at the Manchester Arena, which holds up to 18,000 people.

There were plans for a Mass on Tuesday (23 May) at 5.15 pm at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King, Liverpool with Archbishop McMahon. A vigil was also to be held on Tuesday evening.

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