Pope Francis has mentioned previously his understanding of the world engaged in a kind of piecemeal World War III. Saturday morning in an interview with the Italian Bishops’ Conference official television network, he described last night’s atrocity in Paris as “a piece” of that broad collection of small wars, adding “there is no religious or human justification for it.” Pope Francis said the attacks are “not human.”
“I am close to the people of France, to the families of the victims, and I am praying for all of them,” Pope Francis said. “I am moved and I am saddened. I do not understand; these things hard to understand.”
President François Hollande on Saturday blamed the Islamic State for the terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday, as the death toll rose to 129 victims, with 352 others injured, 99 of them with serious injuries. In a statement released on the Internet, the group took credit for the overnight mayhem. Hollande vowed to “be unforgiving with the barbarians from Daesh.” He said that France would act within the law but with “all the necessary means, and on all terrains, inside and outside, in coordination with our allies, who are, themselves, targeted by this terrorist threat.”
He declared three days of national mourning and said that military troops would patrol the capital. France remained under a nationwide state of emergency.
In Rome, Federico Lombardi, S.J., told Vatican Radio the aftermath of the attacks in Paris is no time to stop plans for the church’s Jubilee Year of Mercy. “In these sad days, in which murderous violence has reared its insane, horrible head, many wonder how to respond,” Lombardi said in a statement. “Some people are already asking how to live the experience of these last days of waiting before the opening of the Jubilee [of Mercy]. Be on guard: these murderers, possessed by a senseless hatred, are called ‘terrorists’ precisely because they want to spread terror. If we let ourselves be frightened, they will have already reached their first objective. This, then, is one more reason to resist with determination and courage the temptation to fear.”
He added, “It goes without saying that we must be cautious and not irresponsible: we must take precautions that are reasonable. Nevertheless, we must go on living by building peace and mutual trust. So I would say that the Jubilee of Mercy shows itself even more necessary—a message of mercy, that love of God which leads to mutual love and reconciliation. This is precisely the answer we must give in times of temptation to mistrust.”
Noting the pope’s reference to “a third world war being fought piecemeal,” Lombardi said there remains a need for a message of mercy “to make us capable of building bridges, and, in spite of everything, to have the courage of love.”
He concluded, “This is, therefore, no time to give up the Jubilee, or to be afraid. We need the Jubilee more than ever. We have to live with prudent intelligence, but also with courage and spiritual élan, continuing to look to the future with hope, despite the attacks of hatred. Pope Francis guides us and invites us to trust in the Spirit of the Lord who accompanies us.”
The Archbishop of Paris, Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, issued a statement today condemning the attacks on his city, praising first responders and urging unity in the wake of terror attacks that killed at least 128 people overnight. “Our city of Paris, our country, was hit last night with particular savagery and intensity,” he said. “After the attacks of last January, after the attack in Beirut this week and many others in these past months, including in Nigeria and other African countries, our country knows anew the pain of grief and must face the barbarism spread by fanatical groups.”
The cardinal urged prayers “for those who were killed yesterday and for their families, for the injured and their loved ones and for those who are hard at work assisting them, for the police forces who face formidable challenges, and for our leaders and country, so that together we will remain in unity and peace of heart.” He ordered the parishes of Paris to strictly comply with security measures issued by public authorities and “I ask them to make today and tomorrow days of mourning and prayer.”
“Sunday evening at 18.30 I will preside at Mass at Notre-Dame de Paris for the victims and their families and for our country,” he said, “the bell of the cathedral will toll at 18.15.
“Faced with the violence of men, may we receive the grace of a firm heart, without hatred,” Cardinal Vingt-Trois said. “May the moderation, temperance and control that has been shown so far, be confirmed in the weeks and months to come; let no one indulge in panic or hatred. We ask that grace be the artisan of peace. We need never despair of peace if we build on justice.”