By Linda Bordoni
Expressing his "firmest reproach" for a terrorist attack perpetrated on the Cathedral of Jolo in the Philippines while the Eucharist was being celebrated, Pope Francis prayed the Lord to “convert the hearts of the violent and grant the inhabitants of that region a peaceful coexistence”.
The Pope, who was speaking in Panama on the last day of World Youth Day 2019, said he entrusts the 20 victims of the attack to Christ and to the Virgin, and he noted that it brings “new mourning to this Christian community.”
The bombings took place on Jolo island, where Muslim extremists are active.
Tragedies in Brazil and in Mexico
Pope Francis went on to offer prayers and solidarity for the victims of the Brazilian dam collapse in which at least 40 people are confirmed dead and some 250 are missing, and for the 114 people killed in a pipeline explosion in Mexico.
“I commend to God's mercy all the victims and, at the same time, I pray for the wounded and express my affection and my spiritual closeness to their families and to the whole population,” he said.
Turning his thoughts to the Venezuelan crisis, the Pope said: “Here in Panama, I have thought a lot about the Venezuelan people to whom I feel particularly united in these days”.
“In the face of the serious ongoing situation, I ask you to pray that a just and peaceful solution may be reached, with respect for human rights and seeking only the good of all the inhabitants of the country,” he said.
Colombia terrorist attack
Then the Pope prayed for the 21 young police cadets killed by a car bombing in Bogotà. He read aloud the names of each of the cadets who were killed on 17 January, saying they had been murdered by the hatred of terrorists.
The National Liberation Army (ELN) claimed responsibility for the car bombing, saying that the attack against a military installation was a legitimate response to the armed forces' bombing of a guerrilla camp during a recent unilateral ceasefire.
International Day of Commemoration in Memory of Victims of the Holocaust
Pope Francis did not neglect to recall the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, saying “We need to keep alive the memory of the past and learn from the black pages of history so that we never make the same mistakes again.”
He issued an appeal to “continue to work tirelessly to cultivate justice, increase harmony and sustain integration, to be instruments of peace and builders of a better world”.
The International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust , or Remembrance Day, is observed on 27 January each year, marking the date when Soviet troops liberated the Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in occupied Poland.