Pope Cries Out After America's Apocalyptic Day

A Uniquely Sorrowful General Audience

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VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 12, 2001 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II presided over a general audience today like no other in his 22-year pontificate: an event heavy with sorrow, few words, and long moments of silence.

He dedicated the meeting to prayer for the dead and wounded in Tuesday´s terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

«Yesterday was a dark day in the history of humanity, a terrible attack on the dignity of man,» he said in a shocked voice to the 15,000 pilgrims gathered at St. Peter´s Square.

The Holy Father requested those present not to applaud during the audience. He was visibly disturbed.

«How is it possible to commit acts of such savage cruelty?» the Pope asked.

«The human heart has depths from which schemes of unheard-of ferocity sometimes emerge, capable of destroying in a moment the normal daily life of a people,» the Pope said.

«But faith comes to our aid at these times when words seem to fail,» he stressed. «Christ´s word is the only one that give a response to the questions which trouble our spirit.»

He continued, «Even if the forces of darkness appear to prevail, those who believe in God know that evil and death do not have the final say. Christian hope is based on this truth; at this time our prayerful trust draws strength from it.»

John Paul II´s confidence was turned into an emotional prayer. From St. Peter´s Square, all those present joined in a special Prayer of the Faithful for the victims of the attack, the wounded, their families and world leaders.

All those present joined the Pope in praying «for those who are weeping and in sorrow over the violent loss of relatives and friends, so that in this hour of suffering they will not allow themselves to be overwhelmed by sorrow, despair and vengeance, but continue to have faith in the victory of good over evil, of life over death, and be committed to the construction of a better world.»

The papal audience ended with the sorrowful notes of the «De Profundis» and with another, emotional prayer by the Pope in memory of the victims.

«Almighty and merciful God, you cannot be understood by the one who sows hatred, you cannot be accepted by the one who loves violence; look upon our painful human condition, tried by cruel acts of terror and death; comfort your children and open our hearts to hope, so that our time can know days of serenity and peace.»

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