Browsing News Entries

Browsing News Entries

Vatican envoy calls on Vietnam to respect religious freedom ‎

The Pontifical representative to Vietnam has called on the Southeast Asian nation's communist government to respect religious freedom, saying it should regard the Catholic Church as something positive and not ‎a problem to the country.  ‎

Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, the non-resident representative of the Vatican to Vietnam, made the call during a Mass he presided over on Aug. 13 on the occasion of the 31st anniversary of the Marian Congress, held at the national shrine of Our Lady of La Vang in Quang Tri Province, central Vietnam.

Give back to Caesar what is Caesar's,

Delivering a homily to a large gathering of pilgrims, Archbishop Girelli touched upon the issue of religious freedom in the country.  "In some provinces, civil authorities are anxious and complain about the Catholics and their deeds," said the archbishop.  The 64-year old Italian prelate advised the gathering on the wisdom of St. Peter's words "We must obey God rather than men" and of Jesus, "Give back to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's."  "I would like to tell the Vietnamese Caesars to give to God what is God's," he said, to which the congregation responded with a large round of applause.

Joining Arch. Girelli at the altar were Archbishop Joseph Nguyen Chi Linh of Hue, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Vietnam, Cardinal Peter Nguyen Van Nhon of Hanoi, 13 other bishops and some 200 priests.  

Church - not a problem

The Vatican envly  said it is the wish of many that religious freedom in Vietnam needs to be properly respected. He said the local Catholic Church must be seen as something positive, rather than as something problematic for the country.  Archbishop Girelli asked the congregation to spend time praying during the congress so that they can acquire God's presence in their life. "Only when we follow Jesus and stay in Him, we are really happy," he said.

The Virgin of La Vang

An estimated 100,000 pilgrims - including people of other faiths from Vietnam and abroad - ‎attended the three-day congress to mark the feast of the Assumption of Mary into Heaven, ‎Aug. 15.‎  During the event, pilgrims attended Masses, went to confession, prayed the rosary and watched cultural ‎performances.‎ 

The first such congress was organized at the Marian shrine in 1901.‎  The Virgin Mary is believed to have appeared in La Vang in 1798 to console persecuted Vietnamese ‎Catholics.  In 1961, the bishops of Vietnam declared the site as the national Marian Shrine.‎

Improving Holy See- Vietnam relations

Relations between the Holy See and Vietnam are improving, despite some tensions in church-state relations at the local level.  Diplomatic relations between the two dissolved in 1975, after the communist north overran South Vietnam.  Since then, visits by more than 20 Vatican delegations eventually led to the visit of Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung to Pope Benedict XVI in 2007.  Since then talks to re-establish diplomatic ties led to the formation of a joint working group in 2009. 

In 2008, the Holy See was finally able to appoint seven new bishops in Vietnam, and the bishops ordained hundreds of priests.  This led to Archbishop Girelli being appointed a non-resident special envoy to Vietnam in 2011.  The following year, Nguyen Phu Trong, secretary of the Vietnamese communist party, visited Pope Benedict, showing the desire of Vietnam to normalize diplomatic ties.

Archbishop Girelli, who is based in Singapore, pays working visits to dioceses in Vietnam, with each ‎visit lasting only one month. All his activities must be approved by the government. 

Vietnam, where 6 million of its 91 million people are Catholic, is one of the world’s five countries that officially claim to be Communist.  The others are China, North Korea, Laos, and Cuba. ‎(Source: UCANEWS)

Rights groups denounces Indian plan to deport Rohingya ‎

A leading international human rights group has denounced India’s plan to deport some 40,000 Rohingya Muslims, saying India ‎should abide by its legal obligations and protect the stateless refugees who face persecution in ‎Myanmar, formerly Burma. 

Junior interior minister Kiren Rijiju announced in parliament on August 9 the central government had ‎directed state authorities to identify and deport all illegal immigrants, noting that there were around “40,000 Rohingyas living illegally in the country,” among them ‎even those ‎registered with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR)‎.

India’s international legal obligations

The Indian government should not forcibly return ethnic Rohingya refugees to Myanmar, where they face persecution, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Thursday.  “India has a long record of helping vulnerable populations fleeing from neighboring countries, including Sri Lankans, Afghans, and Tibetans,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, HRW South Asia director. “Indian authorities should abide by India’s international legal obligations and not forcibly return any Rohingya to Burma without first fairly evaluating their claims as refugees.”

16,000 Rohingya registed with UNHCR

About 16,500 Rohingya living in India are registered with the UNHCR. The government contends that tens of thousands are unregistered.  Rijiju told Reuters news agency, “They [UNHCR] are doing it, we can't stop them from registering. But we are not signatory to the accord on refugees.” “As far as we are concerned, they are all illegal immigrants. They have no basis to live here. Anybody who is an illegal migrant will be deported,” he added.

HRW contended Rijiju’s statement arguing that while India is not a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention or its 1967 Protocol, it is still bound by customary international law not to forcibly return any refugee to a place where they face a serious risk of persecution or threats to their life or freedom.

‎"Indian authorities are well aware of the human rights violations Rohingya Muslims have had to face in ‎Myanmar and it would be outrageous to abandon them to their fates," said Raghu Menon, advocacy ‎manager at Amnesty International India.  "It shows blatant disregard for India's obligations under ‎international law," he said in a statement on Wednesday.‎

Stateless Rohingya

The Rohingya are denied citizenship in Buddhist-majority Myanmar and classified as illegal immigrants, ‎despite claiming centuries-old roots. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have fled Myanmar, where ‎they face atrocities, including murder, rape and arson attacks, with many taking refuge in Bangladesh and others heading even to Southeast Asia, often on rickety boats run by human traffickers.  

Some Rohingyas have crossed a porous border from Bangladesh into Hindu-majority India, where they are largely living in the Indian states of Jammu and Kashmir, Telangana, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, and Rajasthan.   Since 2016, Rohingya refugees in Jammu have been targeted by right-wing Hindu groups who have been calling for their eviction from the state, with some groups even threatening attacks if the government rejected their call. 

“Without the willingness or capacity to evaluate refugee claims, the Indian government should put an end to any plans to deport the Rohingya, and instead register them so that they can get an education and health care and find work,” Ganguly said. “Most of the Rohingya were forced to flee egregious abuse, and India should show leadership by protecting the beleaguered community and calling on the Burmese government to end the repression and atrocities causing these people to leave,” Ganguly said ‎(Source: Reuters)‎

Indonesia marks Independence Day urging pluralism

Indonesia on Thursday celebrated its 72nd Independence Day with a flag hoisting ceremony and a ‎cultural parade in the capital Jakarta.  President Joko Widodo in traditional clothes led the flag-raising ‎ceremony at the presidential palace.  The event was attended by former presidents, BJ Habibie, ‎Megawati Soekarnoputri and Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and a large number of state officials, clerics, ‎indigenous people and diplomats.‎

On Wednesday, the eve of Independence Day, the president said that the world's most populous Muslim-majority country ‎needed to pull together to meet the threat of extremism and safeguard a constitution that enshrines ‎religious freedom and pluralism. In a state address to parliament, Widodo peppered his speech with references to the need to address inequality in ‎Southeast Asia's biggest economy and tackle the threat of radicalism.‎

Threat of Islamist extremism

Indonesia has been roiled in religious tension since late last year after Islamist-led rallies saw Jakarta's ‎then governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, also known as Ahok, a minority ethnic Chinese and Christian, ‎put on trial during city elections over claims he insulted the Koran.   Ahok, an ally of Widodo, ‎lost the bitterly fought ‎city election to a Muslim rival in April and was later jailed for blasphemy,  a sentence ‎rights groups and international bodies condemned as unfair and politicized.‎

Pancasila - unity in diversity

‎"We want to work together not only in creating an equitable economy, but also in ideological, political, ‎social and cultural development," said Widodo.  "In the field of ideology, we have to strengthen our ‎national consensus in safeguarding the Pancasila, the 1945 Constitution, the unity of the Republic of ‎Indonesia and “Bhinneka Tunggal Ika” (unity in diversity)," he said.  ‎

Pancasila, or 5 ‎principles, namely belief in one God, a just and civilized society, ‎unity of the ‎country, ‎democracy and ‎social ‎justice, forms the philosophical and political ideology of the Indonesian ‎state, ensuring religious diversity in an officially secular system.‎

Intolerance and inequality

But there are worries about growing intolerance undermining a tradition of moderate Islam in a country ‎where Muslims form about 85 percent of the population, alongside substantial Buddhist, Christian, ‎Hindu and other minorities.  ‎

‎"The challenges we face now and will face in the future are not easy,” Widodo said.  “We are ‎still confronted with poverty and injustice; we are still facing global economic uncertainty, and we are ‎also facing movements of extremism, radicalism and terrorism,"‎  Widodo added.

Church - Pancasila

The Catholic Church in Indonesia has been supporting the Pancasila for a prosperous and peaceful nation. The Commission for the Laity of the Indonesian Catholic Bishops' Conference (KWI), organized a meeting at Atma Jaya Catholic University in South Jakarta on August 12, that aimed at raising national social consciousness to reflect on their commitment as Indonesian citizens in the framework of citizenship and nationalism.   A few government ministers and retired generals as well as members of several Catholic organizations, participated in the Jakarta meet.  A written statement issued before the meeting expressed the firm commitment of Indonesia’s Catholics to safeguard and foster the Pancasila.   (Source: Reuters/...)

Spanish bishops condemn ‘deplorable terrorist attack’ in Barcelona

(Vatican Radio)  The Catholic bishops of Spain have condemned the terrorist attack in Barcelona’s city center, which killed at least 13 people and injured more than a hundred others on Thursday.

Listen to Devin Watkins’ report:

In a statement released shortly after the terrorist attack in Barcelona on Thursday, the Spanish Bishops’ Conference strongly condemned all terrorism and offered prayers for the victims.

They called it a “lamentable and detestable act”.

“Before this mournful and detestable act, the Spanish Bishops’ Conference wishes, first of all, to express its solidarity and prayer for all the victims and their families. We also convey our support for the whole of society under attack by these actions, in this case the citizens of Barcelona, as well as for the Security Forces.”

The Spanish bishops went on to condemn “every demonstration of terrorism” as “an intrinsically perverse practice, completely incompatible with a just, reasonable, and moral view of life.”

Terrorism, they say, “not only gravely infringes the right to life and liberty, but is also an example of the most terrible form of intolerance and totalitarianism”.

Turning to the victims of Thursday’s attack, the bishops invite all the faithful “to pray that God grant them eternal rest” and that “He return the injured to health and grant consolation to their families”.

Finally, the Spanish bishops pray that “these despicable actions may never be repeated.”

Catholic humanitarian worker on rewards of his job

(Vatican Radio) Michael O’Riordan, a Catholic humanitarian official, spoke about the ongoing severe food and hunger crisis in South Sudan and about the challenges and rewards of his job. O’Riordan is the Emergency Programme Manager in South Sudan for CAFOD, the Catholic Church’s aid agency for England and Wales and its Irish counterpart, Trocaire. His remarks coincided with World Humanitarian Day celebrated each year on August 19th and which pays tribute to aid workers who often risk their own lives to bring help to millions of needy people across the globe. The celebration is also to rally support for people affected by crises around the world. O’Riordan was interviewed by Susy Hodges.

Listen to the interview with Michael O’Riordan who works for the Catholic aid agencies, CAFOD and Trocaire:  

O’Riordan has been based in South Sudan since earlier this year when the first news of a famine in the war-torn country emerged. He said that although the famine since then has been largely pushed back thanks to humanitarian aid, the people there are still facing starvation and hunger and the threat of a new famine has not receded.

“Very thin and emaciated”

O’Riordan described how everywhere they went they saw people who are “malnourished, very thin and even emaciated” in some of the remoter areas. Among the children the health situation was worse with “very very high” rates of acute malnutrition, he said.

“Utterly reliant" on food aid

The humanitarian official said these are people who are “utterly reliant on food” coming from aid agencies to get by and the problem is made worse by an “ongoing cholera outbreak.”

Another problem cited by O’Riordan was what he described as an “apathy” towards those who are suffering  …. a lessening  of sympathy towards the plight of others” by many people in the richer nations who are not so generous with aid donations as in the past.

Humanitarian aid "gives hope"

Asked about the rewards of his job, O’Riordan said it was “the simple gratitude” shown by those they are helping.  He described humanitarian aid as not just giving food or other relief supplies to the needy but more importantly “giving hope” to those who might otherwise feel they have been “forgotten or abandoned.”

Photo by David Mutua of CAFOD. 

Vatican Weekend for August 19th, 2017

Vatican Weekend for August 19th, 2017 features a report on Pope Francis’ Angelus address on the Feast of the Assumption where he reflected on the role of Mary, U.S. Cardinal Daniel DiNardo denounces the evils of racism in an interview with us about the violent clashes in Charlottesville, on World Humanitarian Day, a Catholic humanitarian worker speaks about the challenges and rewards of his job and whilst Rome continues to be gripped by an ongoing drought, we look back at the key role past popes played in helping to ensure a constant flow of fresh clean water through the aqueducts and fountains of the eternal city.

Listen to this program produced and presented by Susy Hodges:


USCCB President denounces racism, calls for unity and prayer

(Vatican Radio) Catholic leaders in the United States have spoken out forcefully against racism in the wake of violent protests that erupted last weekend in the city of Charlottesville, Virginia.

A planned rally by the so-called “alt-right” that included white supremacists and neo-Nazi groups was met by large counter-protests; as fights broke out between the two groups, police attempted to disperse the crowds. Dozens of people were injured, and one person was killed when a car was driven into a group of counter-protesters.

The Bishops of the United States spoke out immediately to denounce the violence. The President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, issued a statement on behalf of all the Bisops condemning the violence and hatred seen in Charlottesville. “The abhorrent acts of hatred on display in Charlottesville are an attack on the unity of our nation and therefore summon us all to fervent prayer and peaceful action.”

In an interview with Vatican Radio, Cardinal DiNardo was even more emphatic. “We see it as an attack on the unity of our nation, as a massive evil thing,” he said. Racism, white supremacy, neo-Nazism and similar evils, he said, “have raised their voices in acts of deplorable violence. And we want to raise our voices against them.”

At the same time, he said, Catholics “also want to pray for the victims of violence,” including Heather Heyer, the young woman killed in the car attack, and others wounded in Saturday’s fighting. “Our point is to pray,” Cardinal DiNardo said, “to call on Catholics and all peoples of good will, to pray for healing, and then to start working anew for unity and peace in this time of tension and division.”

Cardinal DiNardo emphasized the importance of speaking out against racism and other forms of intolerance: “Part of the problem of any kind of evil getting a foothold is when the really good people don’t say anything. So those kinds of issues are important – that we speak, that we act together.”

Listen to Vatican Radio's full interview with Vatican Radio:

Vatican Weekend for August 20th, 2017

Vatican Weekend for August 20th, 2017 features our weekly reflection on the Sunday Gospel reading, “There’s more in the Sunday Gospel than Meets the Eye,” plus our resident Vatican watcher Joan Lewis reviews the past week’s events in the Vatican.

Listen to this program produced and presented by Susy Hodges:

XX Sunday - August 20, 2017

Is 56: 1, 6-7 : Rom 11: 13-15, 29-32:  Mt 15: 21-28

Anecdote:Never give up!”:  Many years ago in Illinois, a young man with six months schooling to his credit ran for an office in the legislature. As might have been expected, he was beaten. Next, he entered business but failed in that too, and spent the next seventeen years paying the debts of his worthless partner. He fell in love with a charming lady, they became engaged – and she died. He had a nervous breakdown. He ran for Congress and was defeated. He then tried to obtain an appointment to the U.S. Land Office but didn’t succeed. He became a candidate for the Vice-Presidency and lost. Two years later he was defeated in a race for the Senate. He ran for President and finally was elected. That man was Abraham Lincoln.     Today’s Gospel episode of healing gives us the same message in a more powerful way.

 Introduction: All three readings today speak of the expansive and universal nature of the “Kingdom of God,” although salvation was offered first to the Jews Although God set the Hebrew people apart as His chosen race, He included all nations in His plan for salvation and blessed all families of the earth in Abraham (Gn 12:1-3). By declaring through the prophet Isaiah (the first reading), “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples,” God reveals the truth that in His eyes there is no distinction among human beings on the basis of race, caste or color.  Today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 67) rejects all types of religious exclusivity: "Let all the peoples praise You, O God; …For You judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon the earth, so that Your saving power may be known among all the nations." In the second reading, Paul explains that, although the Jews were the chosen people, God turned to the Gentiles who received mercy through their Faith in Jesus. In the Gospel story, Jesus demonstrates that salvation was meant for the Gentiles as well as for the Jews by healing the daughter of a Gentile woman as a reward for her strong Faith. Thus, Jesus shows that God's mercy and love are available to all who call out to Him in Faith.

The first reading explained, (Is 56: 1, 6-7): The third part of the book of the prophet Isaiah (chapters 56-66), was written mainly for the Jews who were returning from the Babylonian exile to join their relatives who had been left behind in Judea. But today’s lesson is primarily addressed to those Jews who, after the Exile had officially ended, still chose to remain in Babylon as Jews among the Gentiles. In this passage, the Lord God not only pleaded with these people who preferred exile to the labor of returning to the Promised Land to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple, but also tried to make them understand the role the Gentiles would have in their restored kingdom. Though in the past all who came to the God of Israel were required to accept the Law and the Covenant, God’s concern for those outside that Covenant led Him to a new and radical solution. “The foreigners,” the Lord God declared through Isaiah, “who join themselves to Yahweh, ministering to Him, loving the name of Yahweh and becoming His servants . . . them I will bring to My holy mountain and make joyful in My house of prayer . . . for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” Thus Isaiah's prophecy consoled those Jews who had married Gentiles by assuring them that their God was equally interested in the people of other nations and in the descendants of Abraham. In short, the prophet reports, everyone has a part to play in God’s plan — even those who don’t belong to the “true religion.”

In the Responsorial Psalm (Ps 67) the Psalmist sings God’s blessing on the people of Israel and calls on all nations and peoples to praise God. The Psalm is a response to Yahweh’s declaration in the first reading that the Gentiles will be accepted at the altar of Yahweh.

Second Reading (Rom 11: 13-15, 29-32) explained: In Romans 9 – 11, Paul asks how God could apparently go back on His promise  to Abraham that Abraham's descendants would always be God's chosen people. Paul answers his own question by explaining that it had been God's plan he should turn to the Gentiles and bring them into the Covenant. Frustrated by the slow pace of Jewish conversions, Paul devoted his preaching mission to the Gentiles.  Thus, God’s secret plan to invite all people into the Covenant would be revealed and completed. Paul was convinced that the Jewish nation would eventually accept Christ because God's ”irrevocable” call, given to them through Abraham, was a call to eternal salvation. Paul's failure to convert his fellow-Jews serves as a model for us who must accept failure in our own lives, especially when it concerns our loved ones who refuse what we judge to be to their advantage. 

Gospel exegesis: The significance of the miracle: The Gospels describe only two miraculous healings Jesus performed for Gentiles:  the healing of the centurion’s servant (Mt 8:10-12) in Capernaum, and the healing of the daughter of the Canaanite woman which we hear today. The encounter with the Canaanite woman took place outside Jewish territory in Tyre and Sidon, two coastal cities, twenty-five and fifty miles north of Galilee in present-day Lebanon.  The story of this miracle is told by Mark (7:24-30) as well as by Matthew (15:21-23).  Both miracles foreshadow the extension of the Gospel, the Good News, to the whole world.   The woman in the today’s miracle belonged to the old Canaanite stock of the Syro-Phoenician race.  The Canaanites were regarded as pagans and idolaters and, hence, as ritually unclean.  But this woman showed “a gallant and an audacious love which grew until it worshipped at the feet of the Divine, an indomitable persistence springing from an unconquerable hope, a cheerfulness which would not be dismayed” (Fr. James Rowland).  By granting the persistent request of the pagan woman, Jesus demonstrates that his mission is to break down the barriers and to remove the long-standing walls of division and mutual prejudice between the Jews and the Gentiles. God does not discriminate but welcomes all who believe in Him, who ask for His mercy and who try to do His will.

Trustful persistence rewarded.  Jesus first ignores both the persistent cry of the woman and the impatience of his disciples to send the woman away. He then tries to awaken true Faith in the heart of this woman by an indirect refusal, telling her, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."  But the woman is persistent in her request. She kneels before him and begs, "Lord, help me."  Now Jesus makes a seemingly harsh statement, "It is not fair to take the children's food and throw it to the dogs." The term "dogs" was a derogatory Jewish word for the Gentiles. Dogs were regarded by the Jews as unclean, because they would eat anything given to them, including pork. The woman noticed, however, that Jesus had used the word kunariois--the word for household pets – rather than the   ordinary Greek word for dogs - kuon.   She also observed that Jesus had used the word for dogs in a joking way – a sort of test of the woman's Faith.  So she immediately matched wits with Jesus. Her argument runs like this:  Pets are not outsiders but insiders.  They not only belong to the family, but are part of the family. While they do not have a seat at the table, they enjoy intimacy at the family's feet.  Hence, the woman replied: "Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master's table" (v. 27), expressing her Faith that Jesus could and would heal her daughter.  Jesus was completely won over by the depth of her Faith, her confidence and her wit and responded exuberantly, "Woman, great is your Faith!  Let it be done for you as you wish." We notice that the woman was refused three times by Jesus before he granted her request and finally, the fourth time, her persistence was rewarded and her plea was answered.  This Gospel episode is an account of a woman who got more from the Kingdom of God than she hoped for. The woman came to Jesus asking for one miracle and she got two. This is really a double miracle, for the daughter was exorcised of her demonic possession and received a new life, and the mother, through her experience with Christ, found a new life as well. The greatness of this woman's Faith consists in: a) her willingness to cross the barrier of racism; b) her refusal to be put off or ignored because of her position in life and c) her humility in admitting that she did not deserve the Master’s attention and time.

Life messages: #1) We need to persist in prayer with trustful confidence.  Although the essential parts of prayer are adoration and thanksgiving, the prayer of petition plays a big part in most people’s daily life. We cannot provide, by our unaided selves, for our spiritual and temporal needs. Christ himself has told us to ask him for these needs: "Ask and you shall receive." Asking with fervor and perseverance proves that we have the "great Faith” we need to be able to receive all that Christ wants to grant us in response to our requests. We must realize and remember that we do not always get exactly what we ask for, but rather what God knows we need, what He wants for us and what is really best for us.  What we need most is to receive the peace and security that come from being in harmony with God's will for us.  As Christians, we also know that our particular requests may not always be for our good, or for the final good of the person for whom we are praying. In that case, the good God will not grant what would be to our, or their, eternal harm. But if the prayer is sincere and persevering, we will always get an answer – one which is better than what we asked for. Hence let us trust that every time we pray for something, the answer is already on its way before we even asked God. We just need to trust God’s timetable and infinite wisdom that he will answer us according to His will and purpose.

#2) We need to pull down our walls of separation and share in the universality of God’s love: Very often we set up walls which separate us from God and from one another. Today's Gospel reminds us that God's love and mercy are extended to all who call on him in Faith and trust, no matter who they are. In other words, God’s care extends beyond the boundaries of race and nation to the hearts of all who live, and God’s House should become a House of prayer for all peoples. It is therefore fitting that we should pray that the walls which our pride, intolerance and prejudice have raised, may crumble. Next, we have to be grateful to God for all the blessings we enjoy. As baptized members of the Christian community, we have been given special privileges and easy access to God's love.  But we also have serious responsibilities arising from these gifts. One of these responsibilities is to make clear to others, with true humility and compassion, that God's love, mercy and healing are for them also because they too are the children of God.(Fr. Antony Kadavil)

Pope Francis sends condolences for ‘cruel’ Barcelona terror attack

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Friday sent a telegram expressing his condolences for the victims of the terrorist attack on Barcelona, in which at least 13 people died and more than a hundred were injured.

Listen to our report:

Pope Francis expressed his “deepest sympathy” for the victims of Thursday’s terrorist attack on Barcelona “Las Ramblas Boulevard” with a telegram to the city’s Archbishop, Cardinal Juan José Omella.

The telegram was signed by Cardinal Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin.

Pope Francis condemned the “blind violence” manifested in the attack, saying it is “a grave offense to the Creator”.

He prayed for those who “lost their lives to such an inhuman act”.

“In these moments of sorrow and pain,” the Pope “wishes also to offer his support and closeness to the many injured, to their families, and to all Catalan and Spanish society,” it read.

Turning to the future, Pope Francis said he raises his “prayers to the Most High that He help us continue to work with determination for peace and harmony in the world.”

Finally, the Holy Father imparted his Apostolic Blessing “upon all the victims, their families, and the beloved Spanish people”.

Please find below the official English translation of the telegram: