VATICAN CITY, MAY 6, 2002 ( John Paul II condemned an "execrable attack" by guerrillas in northwestern Colombia which killed 108 refugees at a Catholic church.

A telegram sent today to Bishop Fidel León Cadavid Marín, of the Quibdo Diocese, said the Pope "received with profound sorrow the sad news of the execrable attack perpetrated by the guerrillas with incendiary bombs causing a great number of dead and many wounded among the civilian population sheltering in the Church of Bellavista in Bojaya." The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, sent the telegram.

The Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC) launched the attack against the church Thursday in the town of about 1,000 inhabitants. Many families had sought refuge there to escape the regional fighting between FARC and extreme-right paramilitary forces.

The Pope "expressed once again his energetic condemnation of these new acts of terrorism that attack peaceful coexistence and offend the feelings of the beloved Colombian people," the telegram states.

"While offering prayers for the eternal repose of the deceased," the Holy Father requested Bishop Cadavid Marín "to offer his heartfelt sympathy to the victims´ relatives, along with the assurance of his prayer for the speedy and complete recovery of the wounded."

John Paul II expressed his closeness to the "ecclesial community of Quibdo, so affected by the guerrilla violence that does not respect people or sacred places."

In recent days, violence by guerrilla groups has reached unheard-of proportions. On Friday, guerrillas sent the mangled body of a boy wrapped in gift paper and booby-trapped with explosives to a military garrison.