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London cardinal calls detonation on train ‘another cowardly attack’

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LONDON — Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster described the attempted bombing of a rush hour Tube train in London as “yet another cowardly attack” and said he was praying for the 22 people being treated for burns and other injuries.

The device detonated Sept. 15 on a London Underground train but failed to explode as intended.

An injured woman is led away following a blast caused by an improvised explosive device on a London Underground train Sept. 15. The blast injured more than a dozen people and is being treated as terrorism by police investigators. (CNS photo/Luke MacGregor, Reuters)

It nevertheless shot a “wall of fire” through carriages, injuring passengers, including a 10-year-old boy. No one was killed.

Cardinal Nichols later issued a statement to express his horror at the fifth terrorist attack in the U.K. this year.

“I am dismayed at yet another cowardly attack on innocent people, including young children, as they were commuting to work and school this morning,” said Cardinal Nichols, president of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

“I pray for all who were injured in the blast and in the ensuing stampede, and for all who were affected by the incident,” he said. “May God grant them and all Londoners peace and strengthen our resolve to stand against such evil acts.”

The cardinal, whose diocese covers the Parsons Green station where the attack took place, also praised the emergency services who tended to the victims as well as the residents and workers in the area who offered them safety and comfort.

Cardinal Nichols said: “The generous actions of those who rushed to tend to the wounded and those who were in shock demonstrate all that is good in humanity as a small number seek to divide our society. We should all be alert, but remain calm.”

The bomb, placed inside a builder’s bucket and covered by a shopping bag, was described as an “improvised explosive device” by police.

It included a timer, indicating that the bomber left the device on the train before it was meant to explode.

Detectives say they have identified the bomber using CCTV images but have so far declined to name him publicly.

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Catholics join pope in praying for victims of London attacks

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Catholics joined Pope Francis and the rest of the world in expressing sorrow for those killed and severely injured in the latest terrorist attacks in London the night of June 3.

“The vigil of Pentecost had barely begun when the world was burdened yet again, this time by the sinister attacks on innocent men and women in the heart of London,” Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in an early June 4 statement.

Flowers and messages lie behind police crime tape June 4 near London's Borough Market after an attack left seven people dead and dozens injured. (CNS/Peter Nicholls, Reuters)

Flowers and messages lie behind police crime tape June 4 near London’s Borough Market after an attack left seven people dead and dozens injured. (CNS/Peter Nicholls, Reuters)

“In such tragic hours, we implore the Holy Spirit to pour out his gift of comfort on those who grieve the loss of loved ones and on the dozens who were so tragically injured in this horrible attack,” he said. “At the same time, we see in the courage of the first responders the true and courageous spirit of our brothers and sisters, the people of Great Britain.”

After celebrating Mass on Pentecost, June 4, with an estimated 60,000 people in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis offered public prayers for the victims of the attacks in London that left seven people dead and 48 others injured.

“May the Holy Spirit grant peace to the whole world,” he said. “May He heal the wounds of war and of terrorism, which even last night in London struck innocent civilians. Let us pray for the victims and their families.”

In his statement, Cardinal DiNardo said U.S. Catholics joined in the pope’s prayers for the victims and survivors, and he added: “May God grant strength, wisdom and protection to the men and women who safeguard our families and may he convert the hearts of all who follow the path of evil extremism. Our solidarity in Christian hope and commitment to peace is a bond that cannot be broken.”

In New York, WABC-TV’s “Eyewitness News” reported that a college student from Brooklyn who attends Jesuit-run Boston College was at a pub with some of his classmates in London’s Borough Market when terrorists came in with long knives and started attacking people.

The attackers first mowed people down on the London Bridge in a white van, then left the van to go on a killing spree in Borough Market, according to news reports.

As others fled the pub scene or huddled in fear, Mark Kindschuh, 19, of Bay Ridge, stayed to help a man he saw fighting for his life, the TV station reported.

“All I could see was one man at the front on the ground with a pool of blood forming,” Kindschuh told WABC-TV. “You couldn’t really see it, because there was so much blood around his head, but I searched around with my hands, and it was on the back of his head.”

Kindschuh said he took his belt and wrapped it around the victim’s head to slow the bleeding, then shouted to the crowd asking if anyone was a doctor. He stayed with the victim and a short while later police entered the bar.

His father, Dr. Mark Kindschuh, who is director of Coney Island Hospital’s Emergency Department, told WABC he was proud that his son stayed with the injured man and showed such selflessness amid the panic.

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London cardinal call for prayers for victims of Westminster attack

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LONDON — Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster, whose cathedral is just a short walk from the scene of the London terrorist attack, called for prayers for the dead and wounded.

“Yesterday’s attacks in Westminster have shocked us all,” he said in a March 23 statement. “The kind of violence we have seen all too often in other places has again brought horror and killing to this city.” Read more »

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Pope Francis condemns deadly terrorist attack on Cairo cathedral

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis phoned Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria Dec. 12, expressing his prayers and condolences for the previous day’s terrorist attack at the Cairo cathedral that left 25 people dead.

“We are united in the blood of our martyrs,” the pope told the Orthodox patriarch, according to a Vatican statement.

A nun cries as she stands inside St. Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral Dec. 11 after an explosion inside the cathedral complex in Cairo. A bomb ripped through the complex, killing at least 25 people and wounding dozens, mostly women and children. (CNS photo/Amr Abdallah Dalsh, Reuters)

A nun cries as she stands inside St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral Dec. 11 after an explosion inside the cathedral complex in Cairo. A bomb ripped through the complex, killing at least 25 people and wounding dozens, mostly women and children. (CNS photo/Amr Abdallah Dalsh, Reuters)

The patriarch thanked Pope Francis for his closeness at such a sad time and asked his continued prayers for the Copts and for peace in Egypt, the statement said.

On a December weekend bloodied by terrorist attacks in Egypt and Turkey, Pope Francis condemned the violence and urged people to hold fast to their faith and renew their commitment to upholding basic human values.

After reciting the Angelus Dec. 11, Pope Francis offered prayers for the “victims of savage terrorist attacks” in Egypt, which also wounded dozens, and Dec. 10 in Istanbul, which killed close to 40 people, mainly police.

“The places are different, but the violence is the same,” Pope Francis said. In response to the “death and destruction,” there is only one response: “faith in God and unity in human and civil values.”

The pope also told the crowd in St. Peter’s Square that each day in prayer he is close to the people of the besieged city of Aleppo, Syria.

“We must not forget that Aleppo is a city and that there are people there: families, children, elderly, sick,” he said. “Unfortunately we have become used to the war and destruction, but we must not forget that Syria is a country full of history, culture and faith. We cannot allow this to be negated by war, which is a pile of abuse and falsity.”

Around the world, Christians reacted to the bombing at St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral complex with messages of condolences.

In Washington, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, noted that St. Mark himself was no stranger to the persecution of Christians.

“Those who gathered to worship the Lord at his cathedral this morning in Cairo are family to us,” he said in a Dec. 11 statement. “We draw near to our Coptic brothers and sisters in prayer, sorrow and comfort. And we are confident in the healing power of our Lord Jesus Christ. The lives lost strengthen the faith of Christians everywhere and offer a testament to the great privilege of worshiping God in peace.”

He, too, referred to attacks in other countries.

“This weekend has witnessed the darkness of violence reach into many places, including Turkey, Somalia and the church building collapse in Nigeria. But the light still shines! Today let us offer a special prayer for all those facing persecution,” he said.

Egyptian Catholics were quick to condemn Sunday’s church attack.

“Our heart is with Patriarch Tawadros II … and our brother church, and we wish for goodness in Egypt, and call on the heads of state to quickly bring those responsible to justice,” said official spokesman of Egypt’s Catholics, Father Rafic Greiche.

Father Greiche called the attack “a cowardly, terrorist act on a house of God,” adding that “the church in our country is suffering due to the murder and spilling of blood of innocents.”

His statements appeared on Church of Alexandria, an official website of Egypt’s Coptic Catholic Church, which accounts for a tiny percentage of the country’s larger Coptic Orthodox minority.

On the same site, Coptic Catholic Bishop Butros Fahim Awad Hanna also condemned the attack and addressed those behind it.

“We tell the terrorist that no matter what you do, Christians will remain steadfast in their faith and in adherence to their country, Egypt” said Bishop Fahim, whose province of Minya is a traditional Christian stronghold in the predominantly Muslim North African nation.

Egyptian TV showed horrific images of the attack’s aftermath: toppled pews and floors stained and covered in blood.

“I thought it was Judgment Day,” said 59-year-old Magdi Ramzi, who was in the back of the church at the time of the explosion.

“It was the loudest noise I have ever heard,” he told an Egyptian TV program.

The bomb, which reportedly detonated in the women-only section of the church, killed his wife, and gravely wounded his granddaughter who was fighting for her life in a Cairo hospital, Ramzi said.

In Jerusalem, Wadie Abunassar, director of the Media Committee of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land, called the attacks “barbaric.”

“I was contacting my Turkish friends to express my solidarity with them after (Saturday night’s) attack when I got the news about the explosion inside the church (Sunday morning.) Surely those who are responsible for such barbaric attacks do not know who God is and what his messages are,” he said.

Father Antonious Aloshlemey, general secretary of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate in Jerusalem, expressed condolences about the attack.

“We are not afraid, but this is something barbaric and inhuman, to do an attack against people who just love the church and God and who came to worship on Sunday,” he said.

 

Contributing to this story were Judith Sudilovsky in Jerusalem and James Martone in Washington.

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Pope prays for grieving families after terror attack in France

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Remembering the victims of the tragic terrorist attack in Nice, France, Pope Francis prayed that God may give comfort to grieving families and foil the plans of those who wish to harm others.

People attend a July 15 Mass at the Catholic cathedral in Nice, France, to pay tribute to victims of a Bastille Day attack. Pope Francis condemned the July 14 attack, calling it an act of "blind violence." (CNS photo/Eric Gaillard, Reuters)

People attend a July 15 Mass at the Catholic cathedral in Nice, France, to pay tribute to victims of a Bastille Day attack. Pope Francis condemned the July 14 attack, calling it an act of “blind violence.” (CNS photo/Eric Gaillard, Reuters)

“May God, the good father, receive all the victims in his peace, support the wounded and comfort the families; may he dispel every plan of terror and death so that no man dares to spill his brother’s blood ever again,” the pope said July 17 after reciting the Angelus prayer with visitors gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

The pope spoke following the July 14 attack during Bastille Day celebrations along Nice’s seaside promenade that killed 84 people. The French government declared three days of mourning beginning July 16.

In a message following the attack signed by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, the pope condemned the Bastille Day attack as an “act of blind violence” and expressed his “deep sorrow” and “spiritual closeness” with the French people.

Before leading a moment of silent prayer at his Angelus address, the pope said the pain in the aftermath of the massacre in Nice, “in which so many innocent lives, even many children were mowed down, is still alive.”

“I give a paternal and fraternal embrace to all the residents of Nice and to the whole French nation. And now, all together, let us pray thinking about this massacre, the victims, and the families,” he said.

In his remarks before reciting the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis reflected on the day’s Gospel reading in which Jesus visits the house of Martha and Mary.

The pope noted that the sisters welcomed Jesus in different ways: Mary sat at the feet of Jesus listening to his word while Martha busied herself “preparing things” and forgetting “the presence of her guest.”

“If you welcome a guest in your house and continue doing things, you will have him sit there, both of you silent, as if he were a rock; a guest made of rock,” he said.

Instead, Christians are called to be like Mary and listen to Jesus whose word “enlightens and sustains all that we are and all that we do.”

“If we are going to pray, for example, before a crucifix, and we talk and talk and talk and then we leave, we don’t listen to Jesus. We don’t allow him to speak to our hearts,” he said.

Reminding the faithful that hospitality is a work of mercy, Pope Francis warned that it is also a virtue that “runs the risk of being left aside,” often due to the hustle and bustle of daily life in which people “don’t have time to listen.”

“I ask you to learn to listen and to dedicate more time to this. The root of peace lies in our capacity to listen,” the pope said.

Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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U.S. bishops speak out against terrorist attack in Turkey

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WASHINGTON — Following the June 28 terrorist attack on Istanbul’s Ataturk airport in Turkey, the president of the U.S. bishops’ conference and Chicago’s archbishop issued statements emphasizing the need to find comfort in faith and show support the suffering with prayer and generosity.

The attack left 42 people dead and more than 230 injured.

Paramedics help people outside Istanbul's Ataturk Airport following a June 28 suicide attack. The bombings killed dozens and wounded more than 200 as Turkish officials blamed the carnage at the international terminal on three suspected Islamic State group militants. (CNS photo/Reuters)

Paramedics help people outside Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport following a June 28 suicide attack. The bombings killed dozens and wounded more than 200 as Turkish officials blamed the carnage at the international terminal on three suspected Islamic State group militants. (CNS photo/Reuters)

“Evil tests our humanity. It tempts us to linger in the terror of Istanbul, Paris, Brussels, San Bernardino (and) Orlando,” said Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, who is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Christians should not focus on violence and let fear numb their compassion, he added, but instead should focus on faith and “reach out to our brothers and sisters in solidarity.”

“As violence picks up its deadly pace, we can draw strength from God’s endless mercy,” he added.

Chicago Archbishop Blase J. Cupich said the attack during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan “showed a deep lack of respect for faith and human life.”

In the Chicago archdiocese, Catholics joined Muslims June 27 to celebrate the annual Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago Catholic-Muslim’s “iftar,” the meal that traditionally ends Muslim fasting during Ramadan.

“Let the spirit of prayer and respect that pervaded that gathering grow in the coming weeks and months and leave no room for hatred and suspicion among our people,” the archbishop said.

He also asked Catholics of the archdiocese to dedicate themselves to working for peace and understanding in the memory of those lost and injured.

Pope Francis led pilgrims in praying for peace and for the victims of the Istanbul terrorist attack after he recited the Angelus prayer with visitors in St. Peter’s Square.

The attack took place in the international terminal and the parking lot of the airport when three suspected terrorists opened fire and, shortly after, detonated their suicide vests.

Although no group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told reporters that preliminary signs point to the Islamic State, according to Reuters.

The terrorist organization carried out a similar attack at Brussels Airport and the Maelbeek metro station in Belgium March 22, which killed 32 people and wounded over 300.

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Pope prays for peace following deadly terrorist attack at Istanbul’s airport

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis led pilgrims in praying for peace and for the victims of a terrorist attack at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport in Turkey.

Relatives of one of the victims of the June 28 suicide attack at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport mourn June 29 in front of a morgue in Istanbul. The bombings killed 41 and wounded more than 200 as Turkish officials blamed the carnage at the international terminal on three suspected Islamic State group militants. (CNS photo/Osman Orsal, Reuters)

Relatives of one of the victims of the June 28 suicide attack at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport mourn June 29 in front of a morgue in Istanbul. The bombings killed 41 and wounded more than 200 as Turkish officials blamed the carnage at the international terminal on three suspected Islamic State group militants. (CNS photo/Osman Orsal, Reuters)

“Yesterday evening in Istanbul, a heinous terrorist attack was made that has killed and wounded many people. Let us pray for the victims, their families and for the dear Turkish people,” the pope said June 29 after reciting the Angelus prayer with visitors in St. Peter’s Square.

The attack took place June 28 in the international terminal and the parking lot of the airport when three suspected terrorists opened fire and, shortly after, detonated their suicide vests.

Turkish officials said that, as of early June 29, the attack claimed the lives of 42 people, among them 10 foreign nationals, and left more than 200 people wounded.

Although no group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told reporters that preliminary signs point to the Islamic State, according to Reuters.

The terrorist organization carried out a similar attack at Brussels Airport and the Maelbeek metro station in Belgium March 22, which killed 32 people and wounded over 300.

Before leading thousands of pilgrims in silent prayer followed by the “Hail Mary,” Pope Francis prayed that those who perpetrate such attacks would have a change of heart.

“May the Lord convert the hearts of the violent and sustain our feet into the way of peace,” the pope said.

 

Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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