By Lydia O'Kane
The Pope’s thoughts during the Angelus on Sunday were with the people of New Zealand following the horrific attacks that took place there during the week.
Speaking to the faithful in St Peter’s Square the Pope said, “In these days, in addition to the pain of wars and conflicts that do not cease to afflict humanity, there have been the victims of the horrible attack against two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. I pray for the dead and injured and their families. I am close to our Muslim brothers and all that community. I renew my invitation for prayer and gestures of peace to combat hatred and violence.”
Following Pope Francis’ words, both he and everyone in the square observed a moment of silence for the victims.
The death toll on Sunday had risen to 50 following the worst terrorist attack in the country's modern history. Authorities believe the man charged with the attacks, Australian Brenton Tarrant, acted alone. He appeared in court Saturday amid strict security, while the judge read him one murder charge and said more would likely follow.
Grief stricken relatives on Sunday were anxiously waiting for authorities to release the remains of those who were killed. Thirty-four injured victims remained at a Christchurch Hospital, where officials said 12 were in critical condition. A 4-year-old girl at a children's hospital in Auckland was also listed as critical.