Easter “bloodied” by “vile and senseless” attack that killed mostly women and children
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has condemned an attack in Pakistan that killed scores of women and children, calling it an “abominable” massacre and a “vile and senseless crime.”
Addressing pilgrims under gray skies in St. Peter’s Square on Easter Monday, after praying the Regina Caeli, the Holy Father expressed his closeness to all affected and appealed to the nation’s leaders to do “everything possible” to restore security and protect the most vulnerable religious minorities.
More than 70 people died and at least 300 were injured in the suicide bomb at a funfair park in Lahore on Easter Sunday.
Taliban splinter group Jamaat-ul-Ahrar has claimed to have carried out the attack against Christians celebrating Easter that deliberately targeted Pakistan’s Christian minority. According to the BBC, most of the victims were reportedly Muslims.
The pope repeated that such violence can only lead to “pain and destruction.” He prayed that the Lord’s resurrection would inspire an end to such attacks and allow “love, justice and reconciliation” to reign in the world.
On Easter Sunday, the director of the Holy See press office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ, issued a statement forcefully denouncing the attack as an act of “cowardly and murderous hatred,” which “casts a shadow of sadness and anguish on the feast of Easter.”
Here below we publish an English translation of the pope’s words after the Regina Caeli.
Dear brothers and sisters,
Yesterday, in central Pakistan, Holy Easter was bloodied by an abominable attack, which massacred many innocent people, mostly families of the Christian minority — especially women and children — who were gathered in a public park to celebrate the Easter festivities. I wish to express my closeness to all those affected by this vile and senseless crime, and I invite you to pray to the Lord for the many victims and their loved ones.
I appeal to the civil authorities and to all the social components of that nation, to do everything possible to restore security and tranquility to the population and, in particular, to the most vulnerable religious minorities.
I repeat once again that violence and murderous hatred only lead to pain and destruction; respect and fraternity are the only way to achieve peace. May the Lord’s resurrection inspire in us, in an ever stronger way, to pray to God that the hands of the violent, who sow terror and death, may be stopped, and that love, justice and reconciliation may reign in the world.
Let us all pray for the dead in this attack, for family members, for the Christian and ethnic minorities of that nation:
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of death. Amen.
Diane Montagnais Rome correspondent for Aleteia’ s English edition.