Pope Prays for Forgiveness of Perpetrators of Attacks

Journalist Puts Petition in Context

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VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 11, 2002 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II caused surprise when he prayed for God’s forgiveness for those who organized and carried out last year’s Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Speaking in Polish at the end of a commemorative service during today’s general audience, the Pope asked the faithful to pray “for the eternal rest of the victims, and that God will grant his mercy and pardon to the authors of this terrible terrorist attack.”

Domenico del Rio, Vatican correspondent of several Italian newspapers, commented over Vatican Radio about the Pope’s gesture, which caught some observers off guard.

“Twenty days ago, the Pope did something wonderful: He entrusted the world to the mercy of God” during his trip to Poland, del Rio said. “This gesture should have stirred much reflection and yet, it was somewhat unnoticed. God’s mercy is extended to all the world.”

“We do not have a God who uses a sword, as was thought in ancient times; our God tells us to love our enemies. And, what greater enemies than these can there be?” del Rio asked.

“We must also invoke God’s mercy on them, as we never know what might go through a person’s mind, even when he or she commits the most serious of crimes and horrors,” the journalist said.

“I think the Pope addresses everyone, trying to make them understand that in the end there is the mercy of God, even in face of the most horrific actions that men commit on earth,” the Vatican-affairs expert said. “If we analyze it carefully, I don’t think we should be scandalized.”

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