VATICAN CITY — Expressing his condolences to victims and their
families, Pope Francis called for an end to terrorism following a string of
deadly attacks in Berlin and Ankara.
"Pope Francis joins all people of good will who are working so that the homicidal madness of terrorism does not find any more room in our world." Cardinal Pietro Parolin
Similar to an attack with a truck that took place in July in
Nice, France, a tractor-trailer veered into the crowded Breitscheidplatz
Christmas market in Berlin and plowed through bystanders, killing 12 people and
wounding nearly 50.
In a Dec. 20 telegram sent by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican
secretary of state, to Archbishop Heiner Koch of Berlin, the pope prayed for
the families of the dead and the wounded, "assuring his closeness in their
"Pope Francis joins all people of good will who are working
so that the homicidal madness of terrorism does not find any more room in our
world," Cardinal Parolin wrote.
Cardinal Parolin said the pope received news of the attack with
"profound emotion" and joined the families of the victims in their
mourning and "entrusts the dead to the mercy of God."
Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, Germany, president
of the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community, said
news of the attack in Berlin had "deeply shocked me" and called on
the people of Germany to "hold together and stand united as a
"The violence on the Christmas market is the opposite of
what visitors were seeking. My compassion goes to the relatives of the dead and
injured. For all of them, I will pray," he said Dec. 20.
Police detained an asylum-seeker from Pakistan who was near the
attack. However, as of Dec. 20, authorities said they are unsure whether he was
the driver of the truck.
The attack in Berlin occurred not long after the assassination of
Russia's ambassador to Turkey, Andrey Karlov, by a lone gunman during the
opening of an art exhibition in Ankara.
Mevlut Mert Altintas, an off-duty Turkish policeman, shot Karlov
several times, shouting "Allahu akbar (God is great). Do not forget
Aleppo! Do not forget Syria! Do not forget Aleppo! Do not forget Syria!"
The gunman was later shot and killed by police. Several family
members and the gunman's roommate were detained by investigators seeking a
possible connection with terrorist groups.
Cardinal Parolin conveyed the pope's condolences to President
Vladimir Putin of Russia, saying he was "saddened to learn of the violent
attack in Ankara."
"In commending his soul to almighty God, Pope Francis
assures you and all the people of the Russian Federation of his prayers and
spiritual solidarity at this time," Cardinal Parolin wrote.
The Vatican also told journalists that Archbishop Paul Gallagher,
Vatican secretary for relations with states, telephoned the Russian ambassador
to the Holy See, Alexander Avdeev, to "express his condolences for the
murder of the Russian ambassador to Turkey."