By Robin Gomes
Pope Francis has expressed his pain after a gunman shot and killed nine people of foreign background in Hanau, Germany.
A 43-year-old German man shot and killed 9 people at several locations in a Frankfurt suburb overnight in attacks that, officials say, appear to have been motivated by far-right beliefs.
The gunman first attacked a hookah bar and a neighbouring cafe in central Hanau Wednesday, killing several people, before heading west and opening fire again, first on a car and then a sports bar, claiming more victims.
“Pope Francis was shocked to learn of the terrible violence in Hanau which has led to the death of innocent people,” wrote Cardinal Parolin in a telegram to Bishop Michael Gerber of Fulda, under whose jurisdiction comes Hanau.
He said the Holy Father shares in the grief of the bereaved, expresses his closeness to them in their pain, and entrusts the dead to the mercy of God in prayer. The Holy Father, Cardinal Parolin wrote, implores Christ, the Lord of life, so that all those mourning their dead may find consolation and trust, and be accompanied by the blessing and peace of God.
The gunman, Tobias Rathjen, a suspected far-right extremist, was found dead at his home along with his mother. Turks, ethnic Kurds and people with backgrounds from Bulgaria, Bosnia and Romania were among those killed, according to news reports. People of Turkish background make up Germany's single largest minority.
In comments to Vatican News regarding the episode, Bishop Gerber stressed the importance of creating spaces for dialogue and friendship between people of different origins in order to offer an example that could radiate in society and motivate people.