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Saturday, September 24, 2016

With families of victims from Nice

At 11:45am today, in the Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father, Pope Francis received in audience the family members of victims from the terrorist attack that took place in Nice (France) on July 14 of this year.
Speech of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
to family members of the victims 
from the attacks in Nice (France)

My dear brothers and sisters, I am sorry for speaking in Italian, but my French is not good.

With deep emotion, I meet you, who suffer in body and soul because, on a night of celebration, violence struck you or one of your loved ones out of the blue, with no regard for your origins or your religions.  I want to share your pain, a pain that is still raw when I think of your children, even entire families whose lives have been torn from them suddenly and dramatically.  I assure each of you of my compassion, my closeness and my prayer.

Dear families, I call upon our heavenly Father, the Father of all, to welcome your beloved dead into his presence, that they may find the rest and joy of eternal life.  For us Christians, the foundation of our hope is Jesus Christ who died and rose again.  The Apostle Paul assures us: If we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him, knowing that Christ, who rose from the dead will never die again; death has no more power over him (Rom 6:8-9).  May the certainty of eternal life, which also is the promise made to believers of other religions, be our consolation in this life and a convincing reason for perseverance to continue courageously along our earthly path.

I also pray to the Lord of mercy for all those who were wounded, in some cases brutally mutilated, in body and in spirit, and I cannot forget all those who because of this could not come here or those who are still in hospital.  The Church is close to you and accompanies you with immense compassion.  With our presence, standing beside you in these moments which are so difficult to deal with, she asks the Lord to come to your aid and to place sentiments of peace and fraternity within your hearts.

The drama that the city of Nice experienced has aroused significant gestures of solidarity and accompaniment everywhere.  I thank all those who immediately provided help to the victims, or who until this very day are dedicated to supporting and accompanying your families, and will continue to do so in the future.  Naturally, I think of the Catholic community and of her Bishop, His Excellency, AndrĂ© Marceau, but also other care services and volunteers, especially the Alps-Maritimes Fraternity who are represented here today, including representatives from all religious traditions, and this is a very beautiful sign of hope.  I am happy to see that among you inter-religious relations are very much alive, and this cannot but contribute to soothing the wounds caused by these dramatic events.

In fact, establishing sincere dialogue and fraternal relationships between all people, in particular between those who confess a God who is one and merciful, is an urgent priority that those in places of authority, political and religious leaders alike, should seek to encourage and which everyone is called to work toward.  When the temptation to turn inward upon ourselves, or to respond to hatred with hatred and to violence with violence is great, an authentic heart-felt conversion is necessary.  This is the message that the gospel of Jesus offers to all of us.  It is possible to respond to the devil's assaults only with the works of God which are forgiveness, love and respect for others, even if they are different from us.

Dear brothers and sisters, I assure you once again of my prayer and of the tenderness of the Successor of Peter.  I also pray for your beloved country and for those who lead her, that they may continue to tirelessly build a just, peaceful and fraternal society.  As a sign of my closeness to all of you, I invoke upon each of you the help of the Virgin Mary and the abundance of heavenly blessings.

May the Lord bless you all.
(Original text in Italian)

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