24 September 2016
Christopher Lamb in Rome
Pope comforts weeping relatives of Nice terror attack victims
Francis speaks of forgiveness in face of extremism
Pope Francis urged the families of victims of this summer's lorry terror attack in Nice to respond with forgiveness, while stressing that he wanted to "share their pain."
Meeting with a group of them one-by-one in the Vatican on Saturday, the Pope made an appeal to resist the temptation to "respond to hatred with hatred and to violence with violence."
Those meeting the Pope included Jews, Christians and Muslims.
"It cheers me to see that, among you, inter-religious relations are very strong, and this cannot but help contribute to alleviating the wounds of these dramatic events," he told them.
Francis explained that the 14 July attack - which killed 86 when an extremist drove a lorry into a crowd of people during Bastille day - had been motivated by satanic forces. The perpetrator, Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, had been radicalised by Islamic extremism shortly before the attack.
"You can respond to the assaults of the devil only with the works of God, which are forgiveness, love and respect for one's neighbours," the Pope said.
His remarks about the devil chime with his remarks earlier this month during a Mass for French priest Fr Jacques Hamel, murdered in church by Muslim extremists. At that time, Francis said to kill in the name of God is "satanic."
During the meeting today Nice's former mayor, Christian Estrosi, gave the Pope a bunch of 86 flowers to symbolize the 86 victims. And the Pope then spoke individually with all those present, a number of whom were seen wiping away tears.
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