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Pope rushes message of condolence to US

Pope John Paul II has expressed his horror at the "inhuman terrorist attacks" in the United States, and offered prayers for the victims and all Americans in "this dark and tragic moment."

Within hours of the attack the Pope rushed a telegram to President George W. Bush. Vatican Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls said that the Holy Father was "informed instantly" when news of the attacks reached Rome, during the evening there. The Pope immediately turned to prayer for the victims and their families, he said.

He said: "Shocked by the unspeakable horror of today's inhuman terrorist attacks against innocent people in different parts of the United States, I hurry to express to you and your fellow citizens my profound sorrow and my closeness in prayer for the nation at this dark and tragic moment."

"Commending the victims to almighty God's eternal mercy, I implore his strength upon all involved in rescue efforts and in caring for the survivors, I beg God to sustain you and the American people in this hour of suffering and trial."

The Pope indicated that he would pray especially for "the protection of those who are at work helping the victims," and for "the President and the American people in these hours of suffering."

In a Vatican Radio broadcast, the station's director, Fr Federico Lombardi, said that "one cannot find the words" to express the impact of "one of the bloodiest attacks of our era."

Pope expresses horror at 'inhuman terrorist attacks' (CNS)