John Paul II perseveres in prayer VATICAN CITY, September 12, 2001 — Pope John Paul II began his General Audience this morning by expressing “profound sorrow at the terrorist attacks which yesterday brought death and destruction to America, causing thousands of victims and injuring countless people
John Paul II perseveres in prayer
VATICAN CITY, September 12, 2001 — Pope John Paul II began his General Audience this morning by expressing “profound sorrow at the terrorist attacks which yesterday brought death and destruction to America, causing thousands of victims and injuring countless people.” The Pope pre-empted the weekly Wednesday Audience’s previously planned program to dedicate it completely to prayer and meditation on yesterday’s terrorist atrocity.
Two separate commercial airliners were hijacked yesterday and crashed into New York’s World Trade Center, the world’s largest economic complex. The Trade Center’s twin sky-scrapers, 110-stories tall, each crumbled to the ground shortly after the crashes. Some 50,000 employees worked in the office buildings. John Paul II, at his General Audience, called the catastrophic events, “a dark day in the history of humanity.” He said he followed the news with intense concern, with “heartfelt prayers to the Lord.”
The Pope had words of encouragement for a somber crowd, which included scores of Americans: “But faith comes to our aid at these times when words seem to fail.” He continued: “Christ’s word is the only one that can give a response to the questions which trouble our spirit, even if the forces of darkness appear to prevail, those who believe in God know that evil and death do not have the final say. Christian hope is based on this truth; at this time our prayerful trust draws strength from it.”
The daily edition of the Vatican’s newspaper, “L’Osservatore Romano,” ran the story on the entire front page with the headline “The Madness of Terror.” “Diabolic minds have done this,” the paper writes, “and they are carrying out monstrous crimes plunging humanity into an horrific climate of war.” Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican Secretary of State, said: “We ask the Lord to give peace to tormented humanity at the beginning of this third millennium, which we hope will be a millennium of peace and not hatred.”
Speaking on Vatican Radio shortly after the crisis struck, Sodano said the Pope’s hope was that “this monstrous and desperate act would lead everyone to reflect on the anti-human, anti-Christian nature of violence, of all violence, which leads to nothing.” He added that all Vatican officials were “mourning the dead of this absurd tragedy.”
Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls issued a statement about the tragic events saying the Holy Father: “Prayed to God to give eternal repose to the souls of the many, many victims and courage and comfort to their families.” He added: “The Holy Father expresses great condemnation for this violence which only destroys.”
The Vatican’s Council for Justice and Peace, which focuses on international political, social and economic issues, including terrorism, held a special Mass this morning for the repose of the souls of the victims. The Mass celebrated by Council President Cardinal Francois Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan.
“For the Catholic tradition, following St. Thomas Aquinas, vengeance may also be considered a virtue so long as it is not tainted by the sentiment of vindictive revenge,” said an American moral philosopher, who lives in Rome.
When Jesus grew angry in the temple, he sought appropriate vengeance by clearing God’s house of people who were profaning it, he noted. The improper way to react to this tragedy in the United States, the moral philosopher said, would be “hate-filled vengeance” — for example, after discovering that members of a particular ethnic or religious group were responsible, wanting to attack all members of that group, or seeking harm-for-harm’s sake.