MADRID, Spain, MARCH 11, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Cardinal Antonio Rouco Varela and his auxiliary bishops in Madrid expressed their “immense sadness and profound and uncontainable sorrow” for the terrorist attacks that left more than 190 dead.
The bishops described it as “tragedy that reaches dimensions of an unbelievable indiscriminate violence.”
A chain of explosions this morning, at the height of the rush hour, shook trains near the stations of Atocha, Pozo del Tio Raimundo, and St. Eugenia. Basque separatists were blamed for the attacks, which also wounded 1,200.
“Before the brutal massacres that the ETA terrorist group has caused today in our city, the whole Church in Madrid expresses its fullest rejection” of the attack, a statement read. “The plague of the present world, also of our Spain, is today terrorism.”
The bishops appeal to Spaniards “to accept forgiveness in our hearts” and that “God change the hearts of the killers.”
Cardinal Rouco decreed today that in all Madrid parishes “the Eucharist be celebrated for the eternal repose of the victims of the criminal attacks and for the consolation of their families.”
Expressing its sympathy for the dead and their relatives, the Executive Committee of the Spanish episcopal conference said in a statement: “ETA is an intrinsically perverse organization, whose roots are found in a type of totalitarian and idolatrous nationalism.”
On the eve of the general elections ETA wished “to advertise its political ends, which they judge superior to the lives of persons and the state of law,” the episcopal committee said.
“There can never be any moral reason at all for terrorism,” the episcopate noted. “Therefore, political relations with ETA , either direct or indirect, are not morally possible.”
The bishops also reminded Spaniards that “to react with indiscriminate hatred in face of ETA’s crimes, to the degree that it divides society in opposing and irreconcilable bands, is to favor the ends of the terrorists, to accept their theses of irremediable conflict, to prepare and facilitate the acceptance and recognition of rupturing pretensions.”
“It is the moment to redouble collaboration with the competent authorities in the struggle against terrorism,” the statement said. “It is the time of charity and of solidarity with the victims. We Catholics want to give them our help in all that is within our reach.”
The apostolic nuncio in Spain, Archbishop Manuel Monteiro de Castro, described the crime as “repugnant.”
“What has occurred is an act of unheard-of gravity,” said the Italian episcopate’s SIR agency.
The terrorist attacks prompted the European Parliament to declare today, March 11, European Day of Victims of Terrorism.
Pat Cox, president of the European Parliament, said: “There will be no refuge at all in the European Union for any terrorists. No more bombs, no more dead. Among all of us, we will put an end to terrorists.”