Pope prays for victims of attack during Mass in Philippines

After a bombing attack on a Catholic Mass in the southern Philippines kills four and wounds over forty, Pope Francis says he is “close to the families, to the people” of the region.

By Joseph Tulloch
Following his weekly recitation of the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis prayed for the victims of a bomb attack on a Catholic Mass in the Philippines.

Four people died and forty-two were wounded in an attack on a gymnasium in Mindanao State University, where Mass was being celebrated.

“I would like to assure you of my prayers for the victims of the attack in the Philippines this morning, where a bomb exploded during Mass,” Pope Francis said.

He added that “I am close to the families, to the people of Mindanao who have already suffered so much.”

Pope “commends victims to God’s loving mercy”

In a telegram addressed to Bishop Edwin de la Peña Y Angot, Pope Francis added that he was “Deeply saddened to be informed of the injuries and loss of life caused by the bombing.”

The message, signed by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, continues by noting that “His Holiness Pope Francis asks you to convey his spiritual closeness to all affected by this tragedy.”

“He joins you in commending the souls of those who died to Almighty God’s loving mercy and he implores the divine gifts of healing and consolation upon the injured and bereaved,” the telegram adds. 

Pope Francis concluded his message with “prayers that Christ the Prince of Peace will grant to all the strength to turn from violence and overcome every evil with good”, and imparting his blessing “as a pledge of strength and consolation in the Lord.”

A “senseless and heinous act”

The attack occurred in Marawi. The largest Muslim city in the Philippines, it was beseiged for five months in 2017 by pro-Islamic State militants. 

The commander of police in the region said that Sunday’s attack could be revenge for a recent government operation which killed 11 members of an Islamist terror organization.

“I condemn in the strongest possible terms the senseless and most heinous acts perpetrated by foreign terrorists,” said the President of the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

“Extremists who wield violence against the innocent will always be regarded as enemies to our society.”

Photos released by news agencies show Filipino Muslims gathering in solidarity with the victims of the attack, praying for them and condemning the blast. 

Manilla, Philippines. Muslims pray as they gather in solidarity with victims of the attack.

Manilla, Philippines. Muslims pray as they gather in solidarity with victims of the attack.