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Pope says terror attacks 'offend God and humanity'


Pope Benedict XVI has spoken of the terrorist attacks in Egypt, Turkey, Iraq and the UK, calling on God to convert the hearts of those responsible for the bloodshed.

Catholic News Service reports that the Holy Father was speaking after praying the Angelus on Sunday at the Alpine retreat where he has been holidaying.

May "God stay the murderous hand" of the terrorists who are driven by "fanaticism and hatred" and may he "convert their hearts" to the ideals of reconciliation and peace, he said.

Bomb blasts on Saturday at the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh were the latest in a string of terrorist attacks to hit Europe and the Middle East. The predawn explosions in Egypt left at least 88 people dead, according to reports from local hospitals.

Upon hearing the news of the Red Sea resort-town blast, Pope Benedict expressed his "heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims" in a telegram sent the same day to local church and government authorities.

The message, sent on behalf of the pope by the Vatican's secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, reiterated the pope's condemnation of such "senseless acts" of violence that cause "so much suffering to civilian populations."

"His holiness appeals to all to renounce the way of violence" and "instead to embrace the way of peace," the telegram said.

While investigators suspect diverse Islamic militant groups to be behind the different terrorist attacks, Pope Benedict told reporters he believed the violence was not aimed against Christianity.

"I feel the intention is far more general and not specifically against Christianity," he said on Sunday after a meeting with priests and deacons of the Valle d'Aosta region where he is vacationing.

When asked by journalists whether Islam could be thought of as a religion of peace, the pope said, "I would not like to use big words to apply generic labels."

Islam "certainly contains elements that can favour peace; it also has other elements; we must always seek the best elements," he said.

SOURCE
Pope condemns wave of 'abominable terrorist attacks' (Catholic News Service 25/7/05)

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26 Jul 2005