Referring to a string of terrorist incidents both in Europe and Africa last week, Pope Francis on Sunday prayed for the dead and injured and their families, and asked God to liberate the world from this “inhuman violence.”
“In our hearts, we carry the sorrow for the terrorist acts which, in these past few days, have caused numerous victims in Burkina Faso, Spain and Finland,” the pontiff said.
“We pray for all the dead, for the wounded and for their families,” Francis said, “and we beg the Lord, the God of mercy and peace, to liberate the world from this inhuman violence.”
He then led a crowd in St. Peter’s Square estimated at roughly 10,000 people by the Vatican Gendarmes in a moment of silence and then a prayer to Mary.
The pontiff was speaking during his traditional Sunday noontime Angelus address, delivered from a window of the papal apartments overlooking St. Peter’s Square.
The string of violence began Aug. 14 in Burkina Faso, when gunmen stormed a popular restaurant in Ouagadougou, the national capital, and sprayed patrons with bullets, leaving 18 people dead, including a family celebrating a nine-year-old’s birthday. The dead included nine foreigners and nine locals, and the count later rose to 19 when a police officer succumbed to injuries sustained in a gun battle with the militants who carried out the assault.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but in recent years Burkina Faso, part of French-speaking west Africa, has suffered a string of terrorist incidents by Islamic militants.
On Aug. 17, a van was driven into a crowd in the popular Las Ramblas area of Barcelona, eventually leaving 13 people dead, and another woman died in a second attack in the town of Cambrils. Spanish police now say there was a 12-member terror cell behind the operation, and they discovered 120 gas canisters in the cell’s possession it was planning to use in further vehicle attacks.
Barcelona marked the sixth time in just over a year that Islamic terrorists used a vehicle to inflict mass casualties on a major European city.
Then on Aug. 18 in Finland, a stabbing spree in the city of Turku, located on the country’s southwestern coast, left two people dead and eight injured, including a woman pushing a baby in a stroller. Police have arrested an 18-year-old Moroccan asylum-seeker and five others so far.
No group claimed responsibility for the attack, but police say they’re treating it as a terrorist incident.
Pope Francis has long condemned terrorism, especially when it’s religiously-inspired, insisting that it’s “blasphemy” to kill in the name of God. He routinely offers prayers and condolences for the victims when such incidents occur.