Pope Francis called on Christians to unite in prayer for the victims of two mosque attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand, that left 50 people dead and dozens wounded in one of the worst mass shootings in the country’s history.
“I am close to our Muslim brothers and sisters and their entire community. I renew my invitation to unite with them in prayer and gestures of peace to counter hatred and violence,” the pope said on 17th March during his Sunday Angelus address.
Around the world, thousands have joined in praying for the victims of the 15th March attack. The gunman, Brenton Tarrant, left a 74-page manifesto posted on social media, identifying himself as a 28-year-old Australian and white nationalist who wanted to avenge attacks in Europe perpetrated by Muslims.
After condemning the attack, Pope Francis bowed his head as he led the thousands of pilgrims gathered in St Peter’s Square in silent prayer for the dead and the wounded.
In his main address, the pope reflected on the Sunday Gospel reading from St Luke in which Jesus was transfigured before Peter, James and John, thus granting them “a taste of the glory of the resurrection, a glimpse of heaven and earth.”
Picture: Pope Francis leads the Angelus from the window of his studio overlooking St Peter’s Square at the Vatican on 17th March 2019. The pope led the crowd in silent prayer for the victims of the attacks on the New Zealand mosques. (CNS photo/Vatican Media).