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Spanish bishops counsel against excessive anger

While declaring that terrorism can never be morally justified, the Spanish bishops have counselled against excessive anger, warning that hatred could "divide the nation, to the advantage of the terrorists."

Thursday's train bombings left around 200 dead and more than 1400 injured.

Anger initially directed towards the militant Basque separatist ETA movement was switched towards the government of Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar after it became clear ETA was unlikely to be involved and the Government could have accused ETA for political purposes. Following yesterday's election, it appears the Spanish people have voted the opposition Socialist party into office.

Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela of Madrid, who was in Rome for meetings at the time of the attacks, rushed back to Spain to be with his people.

Asking every parish in Madrid to offer Masses for the terror victims, he said: "No one can remain silent in the face of such a criminal act."

A spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Madrid said priests were called to hospitals to help victims and their families. Priests were instructed to make helping the victims their priority, she said.

At an evening Mass in Madrid's Our Lady of Almudena Cathedral, church leaders read a telegram from Pope John Paul II and an earlier statement from the Spanish bishops' conference.

Pope John Paul said the terrorist attacks "offend God, violate the fundamental right to life and suffocate the peaceful coexistence for which the church community and the noble Spanish nation deeply yearn."

"The Holy Father wants to reiterate his firm and absolute condemnation of such unjustifiable acts," Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state, said in the telegram to Cardinal Rouco.

The Spanish bishops also blamed the ETA for the attacks, saying the group "judged political ends superior to peoples' lives and the state of law."

"The terrorist organization ETA has perpetrated an attack in Madrid today more bloody and brutal than any in its already long history of terror," the bishops' conference executive committee said in a statement issued hours after the explosions.

Spanish bishops condemn terrorists (Catholic World News 12/3/04)
Ringing cell phones, twisted metal, last rites mark Madrid wreckage (Catholic News Service 11/3/04)

Pope tells believers in Europe, across the globe solidarity is stronger than terrorism ( 14/3/04)
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor writes to Spanish Cardinal about massacre (Catholic Church in England and Wales 12/3/04)
Archdiocese of Madrid - Última hora: El Papa Juan Pablo II llama por teléfono al Cardenal Rouco: "Estoy muy conmovido"
"There can never be any moral justification for terrorism": Spanish Bishops' Conference voices firm condemnation of bomb blasts in Madrid yesterday (Fides 12/3/04)
It's not raining, Madrid is crying (Scotland on Sunday 14/3/04)
Church leaders revile 'blind violence' of Madrid bomb blasts (Ecumenical News International 12/3/04)
Pope condemns Spain attacks (The Australian 14/3/04)
Masses for victims of Madrid bombings (Independent Catholic News 12/3/04)
A message of solidarity for the people of Spain (Caritas Internationalis 11/3/04)
Pope condemns Spain terror attacks (CathNews 12/3/04)

15 Mar 2004