Pope Francis Condemns ‘Savage’ Islamist Terror Attack in French Church

Pope Francis has denounced Thursday’s “savage” knife attack in a church in Nice, France, which claimed the lives of three people, one of whom was beheaded.

“Informed of the savage attack that took place this morning in a church in Nice, causing the death of several innocent people, His Holiness Pope Francis joins in prayer with the suffering of the families affected and shares their grief,” wrote Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin in a telegram to the Bishop of Nice, André Marceau.

“Condemning in the most forceful way such violent acts of terror, he assures his closeness to the Catholic Community of France and all the French people, whom he calls to unity,” the telegram reads. “Entrusting France to the protection of Our Lady, he gives the Apostolic Blessing with great heart to all those touched by this tragedy.”

The sole assailant, who reportedly shouted “Allahu akbar” as he attacked his victims in Nice’s Notre Dame Basilica, was apprehended by French police and is now in the hospital with gunshot wounds sustained during the skirmish.

France’s national antiterrorist prosecution announced the opening of an investigation for “assassination and attempted assassination in connection with a terrorist enterprise” and “criminal terrorist association,” French media report.

The mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, wrote on Twitter that all indications are that the incident was, in fact, a terrorist attack.

Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin has sent instructions to all prefects to reinforce surveillance at places of worship as well as cemeteries, particularly at the approach of the Christian feast of All Saints on November 1.

Even prior to the pope’s telegram, the director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, called the attack “a moment of pain in a time of confusion.”

“Terrorism and violence can never be accepted,” Mr. Bruni said on behalf of the Vatican. “Today’s attack has sown death in a place of love and consolation, as the house of the Lord.”

“The Pope is informed of the situation and is close to the grieving Catholic community,” he said. “He prays for the victims and for their loved ones, so that violence may cease, so that we may once again look at each other as brothers and sisters and not as enemies.”

Meanwhile, the President of the French Bishops’ Conference, Reims Archbishop Éric de Moulins-Beaufort, also expressed his sorrow for the tragedy.

“My prayers for the victims and their loved ones,” the archbishop wrote on Twitter. “On Sunday, the Feast of All Saints, we will hear from the Lord: Blessed are the peacemakers, they will be called sons of God. Blessed are you when you are persecuted because of me. For your reward will be great in heaven.”

“My very special prayer again for the faithful of the Nice diocese and for their Bishop Marceau. May they find strength in this ordeal and support those who are tested in their flesh,” he wrote.

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