Pope Francis has said that there can be no human or religious justification behind the terrorist attacks in Paris.
Speaking to TV2000 during a telephone interview the Pope said the attacks were 'not human' and said he found them difficult to understand. He also pledged his prayers, love and closeness to the families of the victims.
And after learning of the attacks he sent his condolences to the Archbishop of Paris, Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, via the Holy See's Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin.
The attacks took place at a number of venues across Paris, including two suicide bomb attacks close to a packed Stade de France where the French national football team was playing the world champions, Germany.
As of Sunday lunchtime, French anti-terror police confirmed that three teams of Islamic State terrorists carried out the attacks that started just before 9.30pm local time and saw the death of 129 people (mostly young) and left more than 300 people wounded, at least 100 of them critically.
Speaking to reporters in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Paris, Fr Federico Lombardi, the Director of the Holy See Press Office, described the incidents as an attack on humanity in general.
A picture of two victims of the Paris terror attacks surrounded by candles at a memorial on Sunday (PA)
The Church, he stressed, wants peace and that the Jubilee Year of Mercy - called by the Pope and due to start next month - was needed more than ever.
In an earlier statement the Vatican condemned the attacks and called for “a decisive, supportive response” from the international community.
The President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, has cancelled his planned meeting with the Pope today in light of the incidents.
The Vatican statement said: “We are shocked by this new manifestation of maddening, terrorist violence and hatred which we condemn in the most radical way together with the Pope and all those who love peace.”
It went on: “We pray for the victims and the wounded, and for all the French people. This is an attack on peace for all humanity, and it requires a decisive, supportive response on the part of all of us as we counter the spread the homicidal hatred in all of its forms.”
The majority of victims died after a mass shooting inside the Bataclan concert venue situated between the 10th, 11th and third arrondissements.
FULL TEXT OF VATICAN STATEMENT
Here in the Vatican we are following the terrible news from Paris. We are shocked by this new manifestation of maddening, terrorist violence and hatred which we condemn in the most radical way together with the Pope and all those who love peace. We pray for the victims and the wounded, and for all the French people. This is an attack on peace for all humanity, and it requires a decisive, supportive response on the part of all of us as we counter the spread of homicidal hatred in all of its forms.
According to police the eight attackers also died, seven of them through detonating suicide belts, although they are searching for accomplices.
Cardinal Vingt-Trois said he will preside at Mass for victims tomorrow evening at 18.30 in the Cathedral of Notre Dame and the bells will ring in respect for them 15 minutes beforehand. And he called on each parish in the city to make today and tomorrow days of "mourning and prayer."
In the days and months ahead, the cardinal said he hoped that noone gives in to "panic and hatred" and called for people to be peacemakers and "build justice."
His remarks were echoed by the President of the French Bishops' Conference, the Archbishop of Marseilles, Georges Pontier, who called on Catholics to be "peacemakers and witnesses to hope."
He said: "We know that evil will not have the last word."