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.

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

Telegram for bomb attacks in Sharm Al-Sheikh (Vatican Information Service 23/7/05)
Angelus: May god halt the murderous hand of terrorists (Vatican Information Service 24/7/05)
Pope: Recent attacks not directed against christianity (Vatican Information Service 25/7/05)
Pope Benedict to finish book during vacation (Novosti 25/7/05)
Being pope ain't easy, Benedict XVI says (Monsters and Critics/United Press International 25/7/05)
The first 100 days of Benedict XVI (ABC Radio National The Religion Report 27/7/05)
Israel angered at Pope's anti-terror sermon (Reuters 25/7/05)
Pope calls attacks on Egypt 'senseless'; calls on terrorists to renounce violence (Catholic News Agency 25/7/05)
Pope calls on Europe to 'return to its Christian roots'; for youth to become 'leaven' (Catholic News Agency 25/7/05)
Pope calls on God to 'block the murderous hand' of terrorists, convert their hearts (Catholic News Agency 25/7/05)
Pope Benedict meets with priests, deacons of Valle d'Aosta, surprises reporters with brief interview (Catholic News Agency 25/7/05)
Pope says terror attacks cannot be defined as anti-Christian (Catholic News Agency 25/7/05)
Japan's Bishops Deliver Message of Peace at 60th Anniversary of A-Bombs (Christian Today 25/7/05)
Terrorism not specifically "anti-Christian," Pope says (Catholic World News 25/7/05)
Pope begs God: stop terrorists (Catholic World News 25/7/05)
Pope again reflects on Europe's Christian heritage (Catholic World News 25/7/05)
Vatican aide rebuked after Pope's exclusion of terror in Israel (Ecumenical News International 25/7/05)
Pope Won't Condemn Islam Over Bombings (The Guardian/Associated Press 25/7/05)
Israel Criticizes Pope Over Terror Message (The Guardian/Associated Press 25/7/05)
Benedict's 100 days: New style, old ideas (Mail and Guardian 25/7/05)
The need to be freed: in time of Benedict, the accent is on prayers of deliverance (The Spirit Daily)
Pope asks God to stay hand of 'assassins' (Reuters/Times of Malta 25/7/05)
Pope's Writing Projects Under Wraps (Zenit 24/7/05)
Pope Asks Prayers to Halt the Hand of Terrorists (Zenit 24/7/05)
Holy Father Hopes Youth Will Be a Leaven in Europe (Zenit 24/7/05)
Benedict XVI to Meet With Muslims in Cologne (Zenit 24/7/05)
Pope's Writing Projects Under Wraps (Zenit 24/7/05)
Pope Benedict XVI: On Europe's Christian Roots (Zenit 24/7/05)
Benedict XVI, Vatican II and Modernity (Zenit 24/7/05)

26 Jul 2005