In Wake of Madrid, Pope Calls for Unity of "Healthy" Social Forces

Comments on Thursday’s Terrorist Attacks

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 14, 2004 ( In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Madrid, John Paul II called for the collaboration of «healthy» social forces to work together for a better future.

«In the face of so much barbarity, one is profoundly disturbed and can only ask how it is possible for the human spirit to conceive such execrable felonies,» the Pope said today before praying the Angelus.

The Holy Father dedicated his traditional meeting with pilgrims, gathered in St. Peter’s Square, to comment on last Thursday’s attacks which left 200 dead and more than 1,400 wounded.

Although the Spanish government has not yet discarded the possibility that the Basque separatist group ETA was responsible for the attacks, new evidence seems to point to al-Qaida, which claimed responsibility for the bombings.

«While confirming the absolute condemnation of such unjustifiable acts,» the Pope said, «I express once again my participation in the sorrow of the victims’ relatives and my closeness in prayer to the wounded and their loved ones.»

«The common testimony of solidarity which arose in all parts of Spain last Friday, with the participation of the political authorities of the whole of Europe, had a moving echo throughout the world,» he added.

«Based on the harmonious contribution of all the healthy forces of the Continent, it is possible to look ahead with confidence and to hope for a better future,» the Holy Father said.

The Pope appealed in particular to believers «in God, Creator and Father,» to commit themselves «to work for the building of a more fraternal and solidaristic world, despite the difficulties and obstacles that might be encountered on this necessary and urgent path.»

John Paul II concluded his address by appealing for prayers for the victims of the attacks, «for the beloved Spanish nation, for Europe and for the whole world.»

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