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Pope sorrow for Ossetia victims

Pope John Paul II sent his condolences to Russian authorities following the massacre of hundreds of innocent victims in the school in Beslan, North Ossetia, urging that the "spiral of hatred and violence" not be allowed to prevail.

The telegram was sent by Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano to the authorities of the Russian Federation through the apostolic nuncio in Moscow, Monsignor Antonio Mennini.

The Pope prayed for the victims, the wounded and their families and spoke of "vile and ruthless violence against children and families".

"Having learned the news of the cruel epilogue to the ferocious abduction in North Ossetia with vile and ruthless violence against defenceless children and families", John Paul II expressed his "affection" for the "Russian people at this time of dismay and anxiety".

After expressing his "spiritual proximity especially to the relatives of the dead and wounded", the Pope entrusted "the innocent victims of this tragedy to the mercy of the Most High". The Pope then reiterated his condemnation of "all forms of terrorism".

He also prayed for the victims yesterday at the giant open-air mass at Loreto in Italy. A young Italian boy read one of the prayers at the three-hour mass "for Russia, hit by a tragic hostage-taking, for the death of innocent children, for the families so severely tried."

Beslan remains overwhelmed with grief, with the people of the city having begun to bury their children and relatives. The BBC is reporting a current official toll of 335 with 200 people missing.

Ossetia: Pope sends condolences (Missionary Service News Agency 4/9/04)
Pope's sorrow for Ossetia victims ( 4/9/04)

Ossetia: Aleksij II's sorrow in a letter to Putin ( 5/9/04)
Putin visits Beslan: "There were no plans to storm the school" ( 4/9/04)
L'Osservatore condemns Russian terror "blackmail" (Catholic World News 3/9/04)
John L Allen: Russian Catholic struggles (National Catholic Reporter 3/9/04)
John L Allen: Ordinary Orthodox support their leaders' views (National Catholic Reporter 3/9/04)
John L Allen: Can an icon promote unity? (National Catholic Reporter 3/9/04)

6 Sep 2004