POPE SENDS CONDOLENCES TO ANKARA AND BERLIN FOR THE “MURDEROUS FOLLY OF TERRORISM” – CARDINAL MARX CALLS FOR UNITY AFTER BERLIN ATTACKS – A WOMAN TO HEAD VATICAN MUSEUMS FOR THE FIRST TIME

POPE SENDS CONDOLENCES TO BERLIN AND ANKARA FOR THE “MURDEROUS FOLLY OF TERRORISM”

Pope Francis has sent two messages of condolences today, one for the cold-blooded murder at an art exhibit in Ankara, the capital of Turkey, of Russia’s ambassador to that nation, and a second one for the victims of an alleged terror attack in a Berlin Christmas market.

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The first message was sent in the Pope’s name by the Holy See Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, to Vladimir Putin, president of the Russian Federation.

“His Holiness Pope Francis,” starts the Message, “was saddened to learn of the violent attack in Ankara, which resulted in the death of Ambassador Andrei Karlov.  His Holiness sends condolences to all who mourn his loss, and in a special way to the members of Ambassador Karlov’s family.  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.”

The ambassador was shot several times in the back by a man in a suit who was believed to be an-off duty police officer. Video of the incident shows Mevlut Mert Altintas, 22, firing at least eight shots while shouting in Turkish: “Don’t forget Aleppo. Don’t forget Syria.” Special forces killed him shortly afterwards.

Pope Francis also sent a telegram of condolences to Archbishop Heiner Koch of Berlin, where the attacks occurred in an area dedicated to festive, traditional Christmas markets.

This message was also conveyed in the Holy Father’s name by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin. The Pope said he is praying for the dead and injured in Monday’s attack on a Christmas market in Germany’s capital city, and that he joins “all men and women of good will” who have committed themselves to efforts “so that the murderous folly of terrorism finds no more room in our world.”

Twelve persons were killed and scores of others wounded in the attack which occurred when a truck came careening into the crowd in what the Pope called, “the terrible act of violence.”

Francis also mentioned gratitude to all the first responders, including security and medical personnel.

CARDINAL MARX CALLS FOR UNITY AFTER BERLIN ATTACKS

(Vatican Radio) Cardinal Reinhard Marx, the President of both COMECE and the German Bishops’ Conference, expressed his compassion for the victims and called for unity after the December 19 act of violence against the Christmas market in Berlin:

“The news from Berlin deeply shocked me. 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.

“In these difficult hours for the city of Berlin and for our country, it is important for us to hold together and stand united as society.”

A WOMAN TO HEAD VATICAN MUSEUMS FOR THE FIRST TIME

Throughout his pontificate. Pope Francis has spoken of the importance of women in the Church, and the roles they can or should play. Today he made good on his words, at least in the realm of Vatican City State, and also made some history when he appointed Barbara Jatta as director of the Vatican Museums, effective January 1, 2017.

A brief biography published by the Vatican notes that she was born in Rome October 6, 1962 and previously held the position of vice-director of the Vatican Museums, appointed to that post in June 2016. She is married and has three children.

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She received her Liberal Arts degree in Letters from the ‘Sapienza’ University in Rome in 1986, a Diploma in Archives at the Vatican School of Paleography the following year, and a specialization in Art History in 1991.

Her background includes teaching courses in the History of Graphic Art since 1994 at the University of Naples, and work in the Vatican Apostolic Library from 1996 until 2010.

 

PAPAL SPOKESMAN ON “SENSELESS VIOLENCE” OF BASTILLE DAY ATTACK – POPE FRANCIS CONDEMNS “BLIND VIOLENCE” OF ATTACK IN NICE – VATICAN INSIDER TALKS WITH DEACON DAN BORNE

Heartfelt condolences to the citizens of France as they mourn the deaths of 84 people – peoples whose lives were cut short by a despicable act of terrorism last night in Nice, France, as the French were celebrating their national holiday, la fete de la Bastille! I add prayers to my condolences!

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PAPAL SPOKESMAN ON “SENSELESS VIOLENCE” OF BASTILLE DAY ATTACK

We awoke this morning to this message from Vatican spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi: “Throughout the night we have followed with great concern the terrible news from Nice. On behalf of Pope Francis, we join in solidarity with the suffering of the victims and of the entire French people this day that should have been a great holiday. We condemn in the strongest way every demonstration of senseless violence, of hatred, terrorism and any attack against peace.”

POPE FRANCIS CONDEMNS “BLIND VIOLENCE” OF ATTACK IN NICE

Pope Francis sent a telegram to Bishop Andre Marceau of Nice, France in which he condemned the July 14 terror attack and expressed his profound sadness and spiritual closeness to the French people. The telegram was sent on his behalf by the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

The message noted that, as France was celebrating Bastille Day, its national day “blind violence has once again hit the nation,” whose victims include many children. Pope Francis once again “condemned such acts” and expressed his “profound sadness and his spiritual closeness to the French people.”

The Holy Father “entrusts to the Mercy of God those who have lost their lives” and he shares “the pain of the bereaved families” and also expressed his sympathy to those wounded.  The Pope concluded by imploring from God the gift of “peace and harmony” and invoking “divine blessings on the families affected by this tragedy and all the people of France.”

VATICAN INSIDER TALKS WITH DEACON DAN BORNE

Welcome to Vatican Insider on this mid-July weekend! After the news and Q&A, stay tuned for the interview segment when I present Part II of my conversation with Deacon Dan Borné of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He was in Rome for the Jubilee of Deacons and I invited Dan and his wife Lissette, who was a reader at the papal Jubilee Mass – to my home for a mini-Jubilee along with three other deacons and their wives. We all learned a lot that night and I hope you learn more about the permanent diaconate as you listen to Dan explain it.

I also want to tell you that I’m leaving on vacation on July 19 for a few weeks. However, you will not be bereft of entertainment or information as I’ve prepared “The Best Of….” Vatican Insider for the period I’m gone!

By the way, if you are already on vacation, enjoy every moment. Relax, enjoy family and friends, and perhaps even slow down on social media use – it is amazing how much fuller and more enjoyable life becomes when eople, not gadgets, are first!

As you know, in the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. If you live outside the U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:00 am (Eastern time). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK FOR YOUR TIME ZONE. Past shows are in VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

 

POPE SHAKEN BY “HOMICIDAL FOLLY AND SENSELESS HATRED” – ORLANDO BISHOP: “A SWORD HAS PIERCED THE HEART OF OUR CITY” – U.S. AMBASSADOR HACKETT ON ORLANDO MASSACRE

I leave tomorrow morning for Poland for a visit of several days. I intend to visit some of the Kralow 2016 WYD sites, catch up with Polish friends and to meet with Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, archbishop of Krakow and a friend of many years, starting with his time in Rome as the secretary to Saint John Paul II. I’ll do my best to post something every day, even a small column or just a few photos, so stay tuned to “Joan’s Rome” and my FB page.

POPE SHAKEN BY “HOMICIDAL FOLLY AND SENSELESS HATRED”

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis is shaken and saddened by the ‘homicidal folly and senseless hatred’ that has left at least 50 people dead in an attack on a nightclub in Orlando, Florida.  Following is a statement released by Holy See Press Office Director, Father Federico Lombardi, on the Orlando massacre that has been described as the worst mass shooting in American history:

“The terrible massacre that has taken place in Orlando, with its dreadfully high number of innocent victims, has caused in Pope Francis, and in all of us, the deepest feelings of horror and condemnation, of pain and turmoil before this new manifestation of homicidal folly and senseless hatred. Pope Francis joins the families of the victims and all of the injured in prayer and in compassion. Sharing in their indescribable suffering he entrusts them to the Lord so they may find comfort. We all hope that ways may be found, as soon as possible, to effectively identify and contrast the causes of such terrible and absurd violence which so deeply upsets the desire for peace of the American people and of the whole of humanity.”

The attack, which took place early Sunday in a crowded nightclub, was perpetrated by a gunman wielding an assault-type rifle and a handgun.   Authorities are reportedly investigating the attack as an act of terrorism. Officials said at least 53 other people were hospitalized, most in critical condition. A surgeon at Orlando Regional Medical Center said the death toll was likely to climb.

ORLANDO BISHOP: “A SWORD HAS PIERCED THE HEART OF OUR CITY”

(Vatican Radio)  U.S. bishops have condemned early Sunday’s mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida and are offering prayers for the victims and their families.

At least 50 people were killed, including the killer, and 53 others wounded when an Afghan American opened fire on club goers with an assault weapon. It was the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.

Bishop John Noonan of Orlando issued a statement Sunday in which he said:

“A sword has pierced the heart of our city. Since learning of the tragedy this morning, I have urged all to pray for the victims, the families and first responders. I pray that the Lord’s mercy will be upon us during this time of sadness, shock and confusion. I urge people of faith to turn their hearts and souls to the great physician, our Lord Jesus Christ, who consoles and carries us through suffering with mercy and tenderness. The healing power of Jesus goes beyond our physical wounds but touches every level of our humanity: physical, emotional, social, spiritual. Jesus calls us to remain fervent in our protection of life and human dignity and to pray unceasingly for peace in our world.

“Priests, deacons and counselors from the Diocese of Orlando and Catholic Charities of Central Florida are serving at the Aid Center established by the City of Orlando. They are on site helping victims and families on the front lines of this tragedy. Throughout the day, they are offering God’s love and mercy to those who are facing unimaginable sorrow. They will remain vigilant and responsive to the needs of our hurting brothers and sisters.

“I have asked all of our parishes to include prayer intentions during the celebration of Sunday Mass today where close to 400,000 registered Catholics participate in nine counties of Central Florida. At our 91 parishes and missions, today’s prayers have been offered for victims of violence and acts of terror…for their families and friends…and all those affected by such acts against God’s love. We pray for the people of the city of Orlando that God’s mercy and love will be upon us as we seek healing and consolation.

PRAYER VIGIL FOR VICTIMS AND FAMILIES

“Recognizing the affliction brought to our city, our families and our friends,” said Bishop Noonan, “we invite the community to join us for a Vigil to Dry Tears’ for all who are affected by this massive assault on the dignity of human life. It will be held on Monday, June 13, at 7:00 p.m. in St. James Cathedral.

“I hope this opportunity to join each other in prayer will bring about an outpouring of the mercy of God within the heart of our community.”

In a statement, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz said “waking up to the unspeakable violence in Orlando reminds us of how precious human life is. Our prayers are with the victims, their families and all those affected by this terrible act. The merciful love of Christ calls us to solidarity with the suffering and to ever greater resolve in protecting the life and dignity of every person.”

Archbishop Blase J. Cupich of Chicago also issued a statement, saying, “Our prayers and hearts are with the victims of the mass shooting in Orlando, their families and our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.  We are grateful to the first responders and civilians who heroically put themselves in harm’s way, providing an enduring reminder of what compassion and bravery look like–even in the face of such horror and danger. In response to hatred, we are called to sow love. In response to violence, peace. And, in response to intolerance, tolerance.

“The people of the Archdiocese of Chicago stand with the victims and their loved ones, and reaffirm our commitment, with Pope Francis, to address the causes of such tragedy, including easy access to deadly weapons. We can no longer stand by and do nothing.”

U.S. AMBASSADOR HACKETT ON ORLANDO MASSACRE

(Vatican Radio)  The United States’ Ambassador to the Holy See, Kenneth Hackett, has condemned the mass shooting Sunday 12 June at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida and says he personally, thinks “we have to do something about the access to weapons in our society.” (news.va photo)

ORLANDO

At least fifty people were killed and 53 wounded by a gunman toting an assault weapon.

Ambassador Hackett told Vatican Radio’s Tracey McClure that “we are all united in grief with the families who have suffered from this horrific massacre.  This is not the first [such shooting]; it seems to be the largest.  We’re just taken [aback] with the violence, the acts of terror and hate that are perpetrated on people and you really have to send your prayers out and hopes that the families will be able to get through this terrible thing.  [I’m] just calling for peoples’ prayers for the families of those people who are suffering so much.”

Asked if the time has come to open up a national debate on the issue of gun control and clamp down on the sale of weapons, Ambassador Hackett says for him personally,

“It’s beyond time for an active national debate.  The debate has been suppressed for years.  Our President has called for greater attention to this issue.  After the shooting of the children [at Newtown, Connecticut] and then again, the shooting in the Church in South Carolina, and again in San Bernardino, California – and now, this horror.  It says to us: we have to do something about the access to weapons in our society.  It’s too easy and people who should not be allowed to have a weapon have some way of getting around the rules.”

POPE CALLS TERROR ATTACKS “CRUEL ABOMINATIONS,” LEADS PRAYERS FOR VICTIMS – “DO NOT FORGET TRAGEDY OF PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS”

POPE CALLS TERROR ATTACKS “CRUEL ABOMINATIONS,” LEADS PRAYERS FOR VICTIMS

As happens on the Wednesday of Holy Week, the Pope dedicated the general audience to the Paschal Triduum in this Holy Year of Mercy, noting how “we are invited in a special way to contemplate the revelation of God’s infinite mercy in the events of Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection.”

“Holy Thursday,” said Francis, “Jesus gives himself to us as food and, in the washing of feet, teaches us the need to serve others.  On Good Friday, in the mystery of Christ’s death on the cross, we contemplate that undying divine love which embraces all mankind and summons us in turn to love one another in the power of the Spirit.  Holy Saturday, the day of God’s silence, invites us not only to solidarity with all who are abandoned and alone, but also to trust in that faithful love which turns death into life.”

During the weekly audience, Pope Francis spoke of the Brussels terrorist attacks and appealed “to all people of good will to unite in unanimous condemnation of these cruel abominations that are causing only death, terror and horror. I ask everyone to persevere in prayer and in asking the Lord in this Holy Week to comfort the afflicted hearts and convert the hearts of these people who are blinded by cruel fundamentalism.”

The Holy Father said he followed “with an aching heart the sad news of yesterday’s attacks in Brussels, which caused many victims and injured.” The toll stands at 31 dead and 270 injured and may rise.

At the end of the general audience, Pope Francis led thousands of people in silent prayer for the victims of the attacks at Brussels’ airport and in its metro.

“DO NOT FORGET TRAGEDY OF PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS”

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has called on people to “not forget the tragedy of persecution” in a letter sent Iraq Christians in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. Erbil has been hosting thousands of Christian refugees from Mosul and the Nineveh Plains, which was overrun by the so-called Islamic State in 2014.

The letter – along with a gift of liturgical vestments and monetary support – was brought to the city by a delegation of the Italian branch of Aid to the Church in Need, led by the Bishop of Carpi, Francesco Cavina. “As soon as the Holy Father learned about  my journey with Aid to the Church in Need,  he called me and expressed a desire to send a gift to our Iraqi brothers in faith,” Bishop Cavina said.

The letter sent by the Holy Father expressed his “friendship, Ecclesial communion, and spiritual closeness” to Iraqi Christians, adding their suffering “grieves me deeply, and invites us to defend the inalienable right of every person to freely profess their faith.”

Pope Francis also asked people “not to forget the tragedy of persecution,” and noted “the witness of courageous faith and patience of so many disciples of Christ represents for the entire Church a call to rediscover the fertile source of the Pascal Mystery from which we draw energy, strength, and light for a new humanism.”

“Mercy calls us to bend down to our brothers and sisters so we may dry their tears; cure their wounds, physical and moral; and console their hearts, which have been broken, and perhaps lost” – Pope Francis writes  – “This is not only an appropriate act of charity, but a succour to your own body, because all Christians, by virtue of their  common baptism, are ‘one’ in Christ. ”

The delegation from Aid to the Church in Need was scheduled to visit refugee centres in Kurdistan, as well as a school donated by the organization which is allowing seven-thousand Iraqi children to continue their studies.

 

BRUSSELS IN MOURNING, THE POPE AND BISHOPS SPEAK

BRUSSELS IN MOURNING, THE POPE AND BISHOPS SPEAK

Pope Francis has sent a telegram to Archbishop Jozef De Kesel of Mechelen-Brussels following the attacks on Tuesday morning in the Belgian capital Brussels. In the telegram signed by Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Pope Francis prays for the victims, the injured and their families and again condemns “blind violence which causes so much suffering.” (photo news.va, AP)

BRUSSELS

Following is a Vatican Radio translation of the papal telegram:

“Learning of the attacks in Brussels, which have affected many people, His Holiness Pope Francis entrusts to God’s mercy those who died and he prays for those who have lost relatives. He expresses his deepest sympathy to the injured and their families, and all those who contribute to relief efforts, asking the Lord to bring them comfort and consolation in this ordeal. The Holy Father again condemns the blind violence which causes so much suffering and imploring from God the gift of peace, he entrusts on the bereaved families and the Belgians the benefit of divine blessings.”

The Catholic Bishops of Belgium have issued a statement condemning the deadly terror attacks on the Brussels airport and underground stations on Monday, calling for prayerful solidarity with the victims and for national unity in response to the assault.

Following is Vatican Radio’s English translation of the Bishops’ statement:

“The bishops of Belgium are appalled to learn of the attack at Zaventem airport and in the center of Brussels. They share the anguish of thousands of travelers and their families, aviation professionals and the first responders who are once again called to service. They entrust the victims to the prayers of all in this new dramatic situation. Airport chaplains are every day at the service of all and provide the necessary spiritual support. May the whole country live these days with a great sense of civic responsibility.” (source: Vatican Radio)

IN DARK VALLEYS, PLACE YOURSELF IN THE LORD’S HANDS – PAPAL MESSAGES TO VICTIMS OF TERROR IN AFRICA, TURKEY

IN DARK VALLEYS, PLACE YOURSELF IN THE LORD’S HANDS

While I rarely offer the Holy Father’s homilies delivered at Mass each morning in the Santa Marta residence, they are always available at news.va where many people have formed a daily habit of reading them.

Today’s homily was so special (not to imply that others are not!) that I want to bring you Vatican Radio’s summary. As I’ve mentioned before, the homily is delivered by Pope Francis in Italian, and when the audio arrives at the radio, staff members transcribe and/or summarize what they hear. Those summaries are then posted on the news.va website. Today the Pope spoke of the “dark valleys” in our lives and he asked questions that we all ask about evil and sickness and suffering.

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Monday spoke of a series of events and situations that shed shadows on our lives and lead us to ask difficult questions.

Speaking during morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta, the Pope remembered a homeless man who recently died of the cold here in Rome; he recalled the sisters of Charity who were killed in an attack in Yemen; and his thoughts flew to the many people who continue to fall ill in the so-called “triangle of death” in the southern Italian region of Campania where the illegal burning of toxic waste causes cancer and despair. As we are forced to face these “dark valleys” of our time, he said, the only answer is to trust in God. (photo: news.va)

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“Even when we do not understand – such as before the illness of a child – let us put ourselves in the hands of the Lord who never abandons His people,” he said.

Reflecting on the reading of the day that tells of Susanna, a just woman who is “soiled” by the “evil desire” of two judges, but chooses to trust in God rather than succumb to their wish, Pope Francis said that that even when we find ourselves walking in a“valley of darkness” we need not fear evil.

How many dark valleys; where are you Lord?

The Lord, the Pope said, always walks with us, loves us and does not abandon us. And he turned his attention to some of the many “dark valleys” of our time:

“When we look at the many dark valleys, at the many misfortunes, at the fact there are so many people dying of hunger, there is war, there are so many children with disabilities… and, asking their parents, we discover they suffer from something called a ‘rare disease’…  And the things we create ourselves: think of the cancers caused by the ‘triangle of death’… When you look at all this you ask: ‘where is the Lord’, ‘where are you?’ ‘Are you walking with me?’ This was Susanna’s sentiment. And it is ours too. Look at those four slain sisters of ours: they were serving with love; they ended up murdered in hatred! When you see that doors are being closed to refugees who are left out in the cold… you say: ‘Lord, where are You?’ “.

Why does a child suffer? I do not know why, but I trust in God

“How can I entrust myself to God,” asked the Pope, “when I see all these things? And when things happen to me, each of us may say: how can I entrust myself to You?” There is an answer to this question, but it cannot be explained.”

“Why does a child suffer? I do not know: it is a mystery to me,” said Pope Francis.

And recalling Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, the Pope pointed out that, although he is suffering, he trusts in the Father and knows that all will not end with death, with the cross.

Pope Francis, pointing out that Jesus’ last words before dying on the cross were ‘Father into your hands I commend my spirit’,” said: “To trust in God who walks with me, walks with His people, walks with the Church: this is an act of faith. To entrust myself. I cannot explain it, but I place myself in Your hands. You know why”.

Suffering and evil are not final, the Lord is always with us

And this, he said, is the teaching of Jesus: “He who entrusts himself to the Lord our Shepherd, shall lack nothing.”

Even if he finds himself going through the darkest of valleys, Pope Francis said that, “he knows that the suffering is only of the moment and that the Lord is with him: ‘Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me’. This is a grace we must ask for: ‘Lord, teach me to place myself in your hands, to trust in Your guidance, even in bad times, in the darkest moments, in the moment of death’.”

Pope Francis said that, “We would do well today to think about our lives, about the problems we have, and ask for the grace to place ourselves into the hands of the Lord.”

And he invited the faithful to think of the many men and women who do not even receive a last caress before dying.

“Three days ago a homeless person died here, on the street: he died of cold. In the middle of Rome, a city that has all the possibilities of providing assistence.Why, Lord?  Not even a caress … But I entrust myself to You because You never let me down.”

“Lord,” concluded the Pope, “I do not understand you. This is a beautiful prayer. Without understanding, I place myself in Your hands”.

PAPAL MESSAGES TO VICTIMS OF TERROR IN AFRICA, TURKEY

Two of life’s “dark valleys” occurred over the weekend in the Ivory Coast and in Ankara, Turkey where dozens died at the hands of terrorists. Pope Fra cis sent messages to both countries, expressing his condolences  and his spiritual closeness to the victims, their loved ones and to first responders.

In the Ivory Coast, gunmen opened fire on people vacationing at a popular beach resort in Grand-Bassam which is east of the commercial capital of Abidjan. The telegram, sent in the Pope’s name by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin to Bishop Raymond Ahoua of Grand Bassam, said,Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin said, “Upon hearing the news of the heinous attack in Grand-Bassam, His Holiness Pope Francis presents condolences to the bereaved and assures the injured his spiritual closeness. The Holy Father again condemns violence and hatred in all forms.”

Eighteen people were killed, including 15 civilians, 3 members of the country’s special forces, and 3 of the attackers. An additional 33 were wounded.

A suicide car bombing Sunday evening in Ankara, Turkey, killed at least 37 people and wounded more than 120 when a bomb was detonated near bus stops in Turkey’s capital.

In a telegram to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Cardinal Pietro Parolin wrote that the Pope was “deeply saddened to learn of the injury and tragic loss of life caused by the bombing in Ankara. His Holiness Pope Francis assures the Turkish people of his spiritual closeness and solidarity.  He prays for the eternal rest of those who have died and for all who mourn their loss, as well as for the recovery of those affected by this heinous act of violence.  Mindful of the generous service being rendered by security and emergency personnel, His Holiness invokes the divine blessings of peace, healing and strength upon the nation.”