“We pray for hope, not hate. The main purpose of us meeting is to pray for the dead, their relatives, the wounded, our country.”
The Archbishop of Paris, Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, said that the French must meet the “violence of men” without hatred despite the “particular savagery” of the terrorist attacks on Paris that saw 129 people who were enjoying a night out on the town murdered in an attack which, authorities say, was planned in Syria and carried out by a mix of radicalised Frenchmen and Syrian refugees.
Seven of the attackers died on Friday night and a huge manhunt is under way across Europe for any surviving members and accomplices of the Islamist group that carried out the attacks.
Three of the victims died in hospital on Saturday, while 42 people remain critical in intensive care. A further 35 people injured are no longer in intensive care, while 218 of the 415 victims hospitalised on Friday night have been discharged.
French authorities piecing together the circumstances behind the attack say that they believe there are more attacks planned in France and across the European Union.
A brief panic spread through the congregation after rumours of a lone gunman in the crowd, but it was a false alarm (PA)
At a Mass at the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris on Sunday night attended by tens of thousands, Cardinal Vingt-Trois told the congregation: "Men and women were savagely and anonymously executed. No one could have known it would be them.
"Our assembly tonight is here to share the pain of their families, their friends, to pray for them, for the city of Paris and for our country," he said at the beginning of the Mass.
Earlier France's leading Catholic had released a statement asking "that grace be the artisan of peace”.
“May the moderation, temperance and control that has been shown so far, be confirmed in the weeks and months to come; let no one indulge in panic or hatred,” he wrote. “We ask that grace be the artisan of peace. We need never despair of peace if we build on justice.”
FULL STATEMENT OF CARDINAL ANDRÉ VINGT-TROIS
Our city of Paris, our country, was hit with particular savagery and intensity.
After the attacks of last January, after the attack in Beirut this week and many others in these past months, including in Nigeria and other African countries, our country knows anew the pain of grief and must face the barbarism spread by fanatical groups.
This morning I pray, and invite Catholics of Paris to pray, for those who were killed and for their families, for the injured and their loved ones and for those who are hard at work assisting them, for the police forces who face formidable challenges, and for our leaders and country, so that together we will remain in unity and peace of heart.
I ask the parishes of Paris to comply strictly with the measures issued by public authorities. I ask them to make today and tomorrow days of mourning and prayer.
Sunday evening at 18.30 I will preside at Mass at Notre-Dame de Paris for the victims and their families and for our country; the bell of the cathedral will toll at 18.15. Catholic Television (KTO) will broadcast this Mass, allowing all who wish to join us.
Faced with the violence of men, may we receive the grace of a firm heart, without hatred. May the moderation, temperance and control that has been shown so far, be confirmed in the weeks and months to come; let no one indulge in panic or hatred. We ask that grace be the artisan of peace. We need never despair of peace if we build on justice.
Earlier Mgr Georges Pontier, President of the French Episcopal Conference and Archbishop of Marseilles, released a statement saying that the French should place their trust in the authorities to do what they need to do.
“On behalf of French Catholics, I express my deepest sorrow in the face of this extreme violence that has claimed the lives of so many and wounded many others,” the statement said. “My thoughts and prayers go to the victims, their families, the law enforcement authorities, healthcare workers and our rulers who have a great responsibility. We place our trust in them in these difficult hours.”
Thousands attended the Mass at Cathédrale Notre Dame on Sunday night (PA)
“I invite the Catholics of France, to be artisans of peace, unity and witnesses of hope, in their prayers, words and actions. We know evil will not have the last word,” he added, echoing Cardinal Vingt-Trois' statement.
Meanwhile, Pope Francis used his weekly Angelus address in St Peter’s Square on Sunday to assert that using violence in God’s name was blasphemous.
"I want to vigorously reaffirm that the path of violence and hate does not resolve the problems of humanity. And that to use the name of God to justify this path is blasphemy,” Francis told the gathered.