‘It is an attack on everyone’:
Bishops react to Nice murders

Gamra, the mother of Brahim Aouissaoui, who is suspected of carrying out a series of stabbings at Notre Dame Basilica in Nice, France, reacts at her home in Thina, Tunisia, Oct. 30, 2020. At least three people were killed in the attacks the previous day. (CNS photo/Zoubeir Souissi, Reuters)

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Bishops in the United States and around the world expressed condolences after three people were murdered before Mass Oct. 29 in the basilica in Nice, France.

French police have confirmed they are treating the killings as a terrorist incident. The attacks came less than two weeks after a Paris teacher was beheaded Oct. 16 by a Muslim migrant; the teacher had shown satirical cartoons of the prophet Muhammad to school children in a lesson about free speech.

Shortly after the attacks, Pope Francis sent a tweet expressing closeness to the people of Nice. “I pray for the victims, for their families and for the beloved French people, that they may respond to evil with good,” it said.

Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago issued a statement joining Pope Francis in prayer. “Whether such violence occurs in a mosque, synagogue, temple or church, in the United States or elsewhere in the world, it is an attack on everyone who seeks peace and closeness with our Creator,” he said. “Only by reaching out in love and supporting the dignity of our brothers and sisters can we hope to end the evil of hatred that gives rise to such actions. May the Notre Dame Basilica, named for Our Lord’s gentle mother, be a place where forgiveness and healing can begin.”

Other U.S. bishops also reacted as individuals, tweeting out condolences and seeking prayers on social meeting sites. Several, like New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan and Bishop Thomas A. Daly of Spokane, Washington, retweeted Pope Francis, saying they joined the Holy Father in prayers for the Catholic community in Nice. The Texas Catholic bishops said they joined the French bishops in prayer and added: “May they (victims) rest in peace, their families and friends be comforted, and the perpetrator be brought to justice.”

For Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron, the attack seemed more personal. He said he was heartsick because “France was my home many years ago when I completed my doctoral studies.”

“I offer my prayers for the people of France, but especially for those whose lives were lost and for their families and friends who are now overcome with grief,” he said in a Twitter thread. “Please pray for the victims of this terrorist attack and for all Christians who suffer under the threats of persecution and death.”

From Detroit, Archbishop Allen Vigneron tweeted that “Catholics in southeast Michigan hold in prayer our brothers and sisters in faith and all the people of France touched by this tragedy, and first and foremost the victims and their families. We especially ask Our Lady of Sorrows to obtain for them the grace of uniting their sufferings to the cross of Christ, so that even in this hour of darkness the light of his Easter victory will shine forth.”

Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island, tweeted that the terrorist attack was “horrific, deplorable. We pray for the victims of that attack and for all around the world who are persecuted and suffer for their faith. Our faith is a precious gift; we should never take it for granted.”

International condolences voice similar concern expressions of support.

Cardinal Gerald Lacroix of Quebec tweeted his solidarity and prayers and noted that, once again, French were struck down by an attack on a place of worship.

In London, Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster said he and other visitors to Nice knew the basilica well.

“Its violation deepens the horror of three brutal killings. May these three innocent people rest in peace. May all people reject utterly the pathway of senseless violence. May God bless Nice,” he said in a statement on the website of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

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