Pope urges ‘sin­cere di­a­logue’ as he meets Nice at­tack vic­tims

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

ROME — Pope Fran­cis on Satur­day called for a “sin­cere di­a­logue” be­tween Chris­tians and Mus­lims as he met griev­ing rel­a­tives and sur­vivors of France’s Bastille Day at­tack, in which a ji­hadist ploughed his truck into a crowd.

The pope, who this week de­nounced vi­o­lence in the name of re­li­gion — declar­ing “there is no God of war” — met 180 peo­ple who were wounded, or left trau­ma­tised or be­reaved by the July 14 at­tack in Nice which claimed 86 lives.

“We need to start a sin­cere di­a­logue and have fra­ter­nal re­la­tions be­tween ev­ery­body, es­pe­cially those who be­lieve in a sole God who is mer­ci­ful,” he said, speak­ing in the Vat­i­can’s gi­ant Paul VI au­di­ence hall, and call­ing this “an ur­gent pri­or­ity”.

“It is with a feel­ing of great emo­tion that I am meet­ing you, those who are suf­fer­ing in body and in spirit be­cause an evening of fes­tiv­ity turned into one of vi­o­lence which struck blindly at all, with­out tak­ing into ac­count their ori­gins or re­li­gion,” the pon­tiff said.

“We can only re­spond to the devil’s at­tacks with God’s works which are for­give­ness, love and re­spect for the other, even if they are dif­fer­ent,” he said.

Mem­bers of 58 fam­i­lies were flown in es­pe­cially from the French Rivera re­sort city of Nice.

They were joined in Rome by 150 oth­ers who trav­elled from France by car and a del­e­ga­tion from a French re­gional in­ter­re­li­gious group, in­clud­ing the Catholic bishop of Nice and Mus­lim, Jewish, Ortho­dox and Protes­tant rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

Last month the Ar­gen­tine pon­tiff met French Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande to of­fer his sup­port and con­do­lences to a coun­try which has been rocked by a se­ries of deadly at­tacks since early 2015.

While speak­ing out against vi­o­lent acts car­ried out in the name of any god, Fran­cis this week re­minded the West that there were parts of the world be­ing flat­tened by fight­ing.

Speak­ing in the Ital­ian town of As­sisi on Tues­day he said, “We are fright­ened by some ter­ror­ist acts,” but “this is noth­ing com­pared to what is hap­pen­ing in those coun­tries, in those lands where day and night bombs fall”.

Vin­cent Del­hom­mel Des­marest, who runs a restau­rant on the Prom­e­nade des Anglais in Nice where the at­tack hap­pened, said he has been on sick leave ever since and now sees a psy­chol­o­gist three times a week.

“I don’t sleep at night. The whole scene of the lorry mov­ing, the mu­ti­lated bod­ies, de­cap­i­tated, the en­trails,” he said.

The 49-year-old has de­cided to cre­ate a lo­cal as­so­ci­a­tion to sup­port the vic­tims of that aw­ful night. — Al Jazeera

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