Pope Francis condemned the terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday, saying in his Sunday address to pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square that “the road of violence and hate does not resolve the problems of humanity.”
The attacks killed at least 129 people, and the Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility for the carnage. Some survivors said the gunmen shouted “Allah hu Akbar” (“God is great”) in Arabic as they launched their attacks.
“Using God’s name to justify this path is blasphemy,” Francis said, calling the “intolerable” acts of violence an “affront to the dignity of the human person.”
“Such barbarity leaves us dismayed and we ask how the heart of man can conceive and realize such horrible events that have not only disturbed France but also the whole world,” the pope said, according to a translation from America magazine.
Francis expressed his condolences to the French people and to President François Hollande, inviting those gathered “to join with me in prayer, as we entrust the innocent victims of this tragedy to the mercy of God.”
In a telephone interview on Saturday with the Italian Bishops’ Conference television network TV2000, Francis said the attacks were “not human,” adding “there is no religious or human justification for it.”
Security has been tightened around the Vatican and across Europe. Police reportedly checked sewer manhole covers on a road leading to the Vatican to ensure that no explosives had been planted.
Other religious leaders offered prayers and condolences, including the new presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, Michael Curry, who offered a video prayer on Friday evening.
“The violence of this evil group brings terror to all, including in the Muslim world where its cowardly acts are opposed by many,”Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the leader of the global Anglican Communion, said in a statement on Saturday. “This is a global and generational struggle against an evil cult that chooses death and fear.”
Several Muslim leaders and groups condemned the attacks, saying, “Terrorism has no religion.”
Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the Islamic State does not represent Muslims, saying, “We are revolted by this heinous and despicable attack on civilian populations.”