Pope Francis prays for victims of Moscow terrorist attack at Palm Sunday Mass

Pope Francis at Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter’s Square on March 24, 2024. / Vatican Media

Vatican City, Mar 24, 2024 / 11:52 am (CNA).

Pope Francis offered prayers for the victims of the “vile terrorist attack” in Moscow at the end of his Palm Sunday Mass at the Vatican.

At least 130 people died after gunmen opened fire at a musical performance in a Moscow concert hall on Friday night, according to the Associated Press.

The Islamic State group’s Afghanistan affiliate claimed responsibility for the attack in Russia — a claim that U.S. intelligence officials have confirmed.

Speaking in St. Peter’s Square on March 24, Pope Francis prayed for the families of the victims as well as for the conversion of the perpetrators of the attack.

“May the Lord receive them in his peace and comfort their families. May he convert the hearts of those who plan, organize, and carry out these inhuman actions, which offend God, who commanded, ‘You shall not kill,’” the pope said.

After offering prayers for the victims in Moscow, Pope Francis made a long appeal for peace in Ukraine, asking people to pray in particular for those in Ukraine who do not have electricity.

“Let us pray for all our brothers and sisters who are suffering because of war,” the pope said. 

“In a special way, I am thinking of martyred Ukraine, where so many people find themselves without electricity because of the intense attacks against infrastructure that, in addition to causing death and suffering, carry the risk of an even larger humanitarian catastrophe.”

Pope Francis added: “Please, do not forget the tormented Ukraine. And let us think about Gaza, which suffers so much, and so many other places of war.”

The pope gave his peace appeal at the end of Palm Sunday Mass, where he opted not to give a homily at the last minute without explanation. 

Before praying the Angelus with the crowd at the end of Mass, Francis gave a brief reflection on the Gospel account of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on a donkey.

“Dear brothers and sisters, Jesus entered Jerusalem as a humble and peaceful king. Let us open our hearts to him. Only he can deliver us from enmity, hatred, violence, for he is the mercy and forgiveness of sins,” Pope Francis said.

The 87-year-old pope, who arrived at the Mass in a wheelchair, has a busy week ahead as he is scheduled to preside over liturgies each day of the Easter Triduum.

“And now we turn in prayer to the Virgin Mary. Let us learn from her to stay close to Jesus during the days of Holy Week, in order to arrive at the joy of the Resurrection,” Pope Francis said.

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