Vatican City (CNA) – The acts of terrorism that took place in Paris on Friday night are the latest part in what Pope Francis has called a “piecemeal World War III,” describing the attacks as “inhuman.”
“There is no justification for these things,” the pontiff said in a phone interview Saturday with TV 2000, the official broadcasting station for the Italian Bishops Conference.
Speaking in response to the Nov. 13 attacks, which are the deadliest acts of violence the city has seen since World War II, the pope said he is “moved and pained” by what happened, and expressed his closeness to those affected by the tragedy.
“I am close to the people of France, to the families of the victims, and I am praying for all of them,” he said.
“These things are hard to understand,” he said, adding that he “loves France very much.”
At least 128 people are confirmed dead and more than 180 wounded in terrorist attacks which targeted bars, restaurants, a concert hall, and a football stadium in the heart of Paris on Nov. 13. Around 80 people are listed in critical condition, according to the BBC.
“I am close to the people of France, to the families of the victims, and I am praying for all of them.”
The deadliest attack came when militants overtook the Bataclan concert hall, in which at least 82 people were killed, after the terrorists had seized dozens of hostages.
Eyewitnesses reported hearing the terrorists cry out “Allahu Akbar!” – Arabic for “God is Great!” The terrorists carried out the siege with suicide bombs and semi-automatic weapons. Police have said all eight attackers are dead.
In the wake of the attacks, Paris archbishop Cardinal André Vingt-Trois in a Nov. 14 statement appealed for the grace to be “artisans of peace.” He stressed that “we must never despair of peace if we are to build justice.”
He added, “Faced with the violence of men, we can receive the grace of a steadfast heart without hate.” The French prelate called for people to not give in to panic or hatred.
“This morning I pray and I invite the Catholics of Paris to pray for those who were killed yesterday and for their families,” Cardinal André Vingt-Trois continued. He also called for prayers for the injured, those working to help those affected by the crisis, and the nation’s leaders in order that they “remain together in unity and peace of heart.”
“We ask for the grace to be artisans of peace. We must never despair of peace,” he said.
The BBC reports that French President Francois Hollande has called the attacks “an act of war” by ISIS.
The French president declared a nationwide state of emergency soon after the rampage began and closed the country’s borders. Parisians were urged to stay in doors.
“The Holy Father vigorously condemns violence, which cannot solve anything.”
This is the second and deadlier of two sieges against Paris by Islamic terrorists in 2015. Twelve people were killed on Jan. 7 when Islamic terrorists stormed the headquarters of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.
Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, sent a telegram to Cardinal Vingt-Trois on behalf of Pope Francis, assuring the archbishop of Paris of his prayers for those affected by “horrific terrorist attacks.”
“The Holy Father vigorously condemns violence, which cannot solve anything,” the telegram reads, according to Vatican Radio’s translation of the message which was originally written in French.
“He asks God to inspire thoughts of peace and solidarity in all and to impart on families in this trial and on all of the French people, the abundance of His Blessings.”
The telegram by saying the pope prays that God might “welcome the victims into the peace of His light and bring comfort and hope to the injured and their families,” and assured his “spiritual closeness” to the French people.
This article originally appeared in Catholic News Service.