MOSCOW, OCT. 27, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Here is the message of Archbishop Thaddeus Kondrusiewicz, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Russia, following Saturday’s rescue operation to end the hostage siege at a Moscow theater.
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While sharing the relief felt by all their countrymen and women at the freeing of the hundreds of hostages held captive by terrorists in Moscow, the Catholics of Russia deeply grieve for those who did not live to see this bright moment, and sympathize with those overtaken by a terrible loss.
Today, in all Russian Catholic parishes, prayers are being raised to the all-merciful Lord for the repose of the souls of those who have died, for consolation for their relatives and friends, for the speedy recovery of the injured, for spiritual strength for those who survived so terrible a crime, as well as for the restoration of peace and understanding in Russia.
We sincerely regret that the efforts for a peaceful resolution of the conflict, the appeals and initiatives of government representatives, public figures and religious leaders were fruitless. Once again we appeal to our fellow citizens to exercise restraint and calm. We appeal to them to control their emotions and not to take revenge for their pain on our innocent brothers and sisters of a different ethnic background and faith.
We call on Russians, people of different ethnic origins and religions but respecting government authority and spiritual leadership, to do their utmost to stop the escalation of tension in society on the political, interreligious and ethnic levels.
May the Almighty Lord enlighten those who have gone astray, strengthen those who have suffered, and bless all efforts leading to the establishment of accord, peaceful co-existence and understanding.
May the one and only Creator grant us all wisdom and hope, may he preserve our country from such terrible events and set us [on] the path of peace and well-being.
Moscow, 26th October 2002
[English translation issued by the Press Center of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Russia]