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In the face of the devil’s assaults, we must respond as God would, promoting respect for others and extending love and forgiveness to those who have harmed us, Pope Francis said in a Saturday audience with survivors of the terror attack in Nice, France in July.
“When the temptation to turn in on themselves, or to answer hatred with hatred and violence with violence is great, authentic conversion of heart is necessary,” he said Sept. 24. “This is the message that the Gospel of Jesus addressed to all of us.”
Pope Francis received the nearly 1,000 survivors of the July 14 attack in Nice in the Pope Paul VI hall at the Vatican. After his speech he greeted them each one by one.
Eighty-six people were killed and over 400 were wounded in the Nice terror attack in July after a Tunisian man, Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, intentionally drove a large truck through the crowded seafront Promenade des Anglais.
The crowds had been celebrating Bastille Day, which marks the day of France’s independence and is traditionally the country’s biggest public holiday.
“I wish to share your pain, a pain that becomes even stronger when I think of the children, even entire families, whose lives have been torn suddenly and dramatically. To each of you I assure my compassion, my closeness and my prayer,” the Pope told those gathered.
“The Church remains near and accompanies you with great mercies,” he said. “With its presence next to you in these moments so heavy to deal with, she asks the Lord to come to your aid and to put in your hearts feelings of peace and brotherhood.”
In his speech, Pope Francis praised all those who went to the aid of the wounded, the victims, and their families, after the attack, both Catholic and organizations of other religions.
“I am glad to see that among you interreligious relations are very much alive, and this can only help to alleviate the hurt of these dramatic events,” he said.
“In fact, establish a sincere dialogue and fraternal relations among all, particularly among those who confess one and merciful God, it is an urgent priority that those responsible, both political and religious, should seek to encourage and which everyone is called to implement around him.”
Pope Francis also met with the Hospital Sisters of Mercy Sept. 24, praising them for their dedication to serving the sick and dying, regardless of race or religion.
“In front of the weakness of the disease can be no distinctions of social status, race, language and culture; Everybody grows weak and we must trust the other,” he said.
“You dedicated your life above all to the service of brothers and sisters who are in hospitals, who thanks to your presence and professionalism will feel better supported in the disease,” the Pope said. “And to do this there is no need for long speeches: a caress, a kiss, stand by in silence, a smile.”
“On that hospital bed always lies Jesus, present in the person who is suffering, and it is he who asks for help from each of you.”