Following Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis expressed his thoughts regarding the Paris terrorist attacks that occurred on Friday November 13. “I wish to express my deep sorrow for the terrorist attacks which on Friday evening covered France in blood,” the Pontiff said during the Angelus address.
“Such barbarity leaves us shocked and makes us wonder how the human heart can conceive and carry out such horrible events, which have shaken not only France but the entire world.” According to EWTN News, Francis offered his condolences to President Hollande and the families of the dead and wounded, entrusting them to the mercy of God.
These comments come in the wake of the deadliest coordinated series of attacks on French soil since World War II, leaving behind a toll of 129 casualties and 352 people injured, 99 of whom remain in critical condition. The attacks included a music venue where a heavy metal band was playing, several bars and restaurants, and the Stade de France—the French national soccer stadium—where the national teams of France and Germany were playing a friendly, with President Hollande in attendance.
The Paris attacks were the deadliest in European soil since the Madrid train bombings in 2004, which killed 191 people and was also linked to Muslim extremist violence. Eyewitnesses to the attacks reported hearing the attackers exclaiming, “Allahu Akbar!” and the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or Daesh) has since taken responsibility for the attack, leading to increased attacks by the French Air Force into the IS stronghold of Raqqa in Syria.
Being that the attacks were religiously motivated, Pope Francis said, “I wish to forcefully reaffirm that the path of violence and hate can never solve the problems of humanity!” He continued, “To use the name of God to justify this path is blasphemy.” These words follow the comments that the Holy Father has made following the exposure of violent acts by IS, including the video released in February 2015 that showed a group of militants beheading 21 Coptic Christians for their faith.
In a speech on Monday to the emergency session of the French parliament, President Hollande proposed to extend France’s state of emergency for another three months, declaring, “France is at war. [This attack] constitutes an attack on our country, its values, its youth, its way of life.” Hollande asked for a resolution on the part of the UN Security Council to “destroy Daesh” and called for the U.S. and Russia to set aside their differences and combine their forces in order to bring about the end of the Islamic State. “We must combine our forces to achieve a result that is already too late in the coming,” he said.
The French minister of the interior, on the other hand, suggested in an interview for a French television station on Sunday that he is considering the possibility of closing down particular French mosques where extremist preaching is practiced. He may be able to move more quickly in this while France is in a state of emergency.
The Islamic State released a video on Monday praising the Paris attacks and threatening that further violence is on its way, particularly aimed at the United States. The speaker in the video, identified by subtitles as Al Ghareeb the Algerian, remarked that attacks against states taking part in “the crusader campaign” will continue and that, “…by God, as we struck France in the centre of its abode in Paris, then we swear that we will strike America at its centre in Washington.” Sporting events in the U.S. on Sunday saw increased security measures as a safeguard against possible attacks.