By editor - 06 March, 2016
Pope Francis has expressed his shock and has said he is “profoundly saddened” by the murder of four Missionaries of Charity nuns and twelve other people at a home for the elderly and disabled in Aden, Yemen.
Gunmen entered the care home on Friday and went room-to-room, handcuffing victims before shooting them in the head.
The home was run by the Sisters of the Missionaries of Charity, founded by Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
A message signed by the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, said the Pope “sends the assurance of his prayers for the dead and his spiritual closeness to their families and to all affected from this act of senseless and diabolical violence.”
The Pontiff, the message said, was praying that “this pointless slaughter will awaken consciences, lead to a change of heart, and inspire all parties to lay down their arms and take up the path of dialogue.”
It concludes with a strong appeal for an end to the ongoing violence in Yemen.
He called on all parties in the present conflict to renounce violence and to renew their commitment to the people of Yemen, particularly “those most in need, whom the Sisters and their helpers sought to serve”.
“Upon everyone suffering from this violence, the Holy Father invokes God’s blessing, and in a special ways he extends to the Missionaries of Charity his prayerful sympathy and solidarity.”
The Apostolic Vicariate of Southern Arabia confirmed that the dead included four Missionary Sisters – two from Rwanda, one from India and one from Kenya – and several of their helpers, including at least five from Ethiopia.
It is understood that no residents served by the Sisters were harmed.
The Superior of the Convent was also unharmed, but there is concern for the safety of the Indian Salesian priest Fr Tom Uzhunnalil whose whereabouts are unknown.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the atrocity.
On 9 December 2015 the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Aden suffered severe damage when explosives were detonated by militants.
The church had last been used in March 2015.
The context of these attacks is one of ongoing warfare and humanitarian disaster in Yemen.
Aden was recaptured from Houthi militants by forces loyal to President Hadi in July 2015, though conditions of lawlessness prevail in which extremist groups such as Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula are active.