Terrorism and War:
A Catholic Response

Pope John Paul II Responds


Prayer by the Holy Father for the One-Month Memorial of the Terrorist Attack

Brothers and Sisters,
Dear Synodal Fathers,
one month since the inhumane terrorist attacks
which occurred in different parts of the United States of America,
we again recommend
to the eternal mercy of the God of our Fathers
the numerous innocent victims.

We ask for consolation and comfort
for their family and relatives,
burdened by pain;
we invoke strength and courage
for the many who continue their work
in the places struck by this terrible disaster;
we implore for tenacity and perseverance
by all men of goodwill
continuing on the paths of justice and peace.

May the Lord remove from the heart of man 
every trace of resentment, of hostility and of hate,
and open him to reconciliation,
to solidarity and to peace.

Let us pray so that the "culture of love"
may be established all over the world.

After reciting the Our Father and before the Apostolic Benediction, the Holy Father pronounced the following prayer:

O God, Almighty and Merciful,
he who sows discord cannot understand you,
he who loves violence cannot welcome you:
watch over us in our painful human condition
tried by the brutal acts of terrorism and death;
Comfort your children and open our hearts to hope,
that our time may again know days of serenity and peace.

Popeís Remarks of Concern for the American People on Sept. 16

May the Blessed Virgin bring comfort and hope to those who suffer on account of the tragic attack of the terrorists, that last week seriously harmed the beloved American people. To all the children of this great Nation I direct my heartbroken and heartfelt consideration. May Mary welcome the dead, console the survivors, support those families who are particularly tried, help all to resist the temptation to hatred and violence, and to dedicate themselves to the service of justice and peace.
May the Virgin Mary nourish in the hearts of all young persons, above all, high human and spiritual ideals and the necessary perseverance to achieve them. May She remind them of the primacy of eternal values, especially in these difficult moments, so that in their daily engagements and activities they may ever continue to be turned toward God and to his kingdom of solidarity and peace.

Letter of Condolence to Cardinal McCarrick of Washington 

Dear Cardinal McCarrick,

I join my prayers to those of all assembled in the National Shrine for the Mass of suffrage celebrated for those who lost their lives in last Tuesdays terrorist attack on the Pentagon. I am confident that in this time of trial all Americans will find their religious faith a source of renewed hope and the impetus for an ever more determined resolve to reject the ways of hatred and violence.

To those affected by this immense tragedy I hold up the light of the Gospel and pray that by the prompting of the Holy Spirit they will be led to an ever closer union with the Lord Jesus Christ in the mystery of His cross and resurrection. To all I solemnly repeat the Gospel injunction not to be conquered by evil, but to conquer evil with good (Rom 12,21), to trust in the power of God's grace to transform human hearts and to work fearlessly to shape a future of justice, peace and security for the children of our world. Upon you, Archbishop O'Brien, Bishop Loverde and all the military and civilian personnel who have gathered to commend the departed to the infinite mercy of God our loving Father, I cordially invoke the divine gifts of wisdom, strength and perseverance in good. To all the faithful I cordially impart my apostolic blessing as a pledge of comfort and peace in the Lord.

Holy Father Offers Condolences During Papal Audience of Sept. 12

I cannot begin this audience without expressing my profound sorrow at the terrorist attacks which yesterday brought death and destruction to America, causing thousands of victims and injuring countless people. To the President of the United States and to all American citizens I express my heartfelt sorrow. In the face of such unspeakable horror we cannot but be deeply disturbed. I add my voice to all the voices raised in these hours to express indignant condemnation, and I strongly reiterate that the ways of violence will never lead to genuine solutions to humanityís problems.

Yesterday was a dark day in the history of humanity, a terrible affront to human dignity. After receiving the news, I followed with intense concern the developing situation, with heartfelt prayers to the Lord. How is it possible to commit acts of such savage cruelty? The human heart has depths from which schemes of unheard-of ferocity sometimes emerge, capable of destroying in a moment the normal daily life of a people. But faith comes to our aid at these times when words seem to fail. Christís word is the only one that can give a response to the questions which trouble our spirit. Even if the forces of darkness appear to prevail, those who believe in God know that evil and death do not have the final say. Christian hope is based on this truth; at this time our prayerful trust draws strength from it.

With deeply felt sympathy I address myself to the beloved people of the United States in this moment of distress and consternation, when the courage of so many men and women of good will is being sorely tested. In a special way I reach out to the families of the dead and the injured, and assure them of my spiritual closeness. I entrust to the mercy of the Most High the helpless victims of this tragedy, for whom I offered Mass this morning, invoking upon them eternal rest. May God give courage to the survivors; may he sustain the rescue-workers and the many volunteers who are presently making an enormous effort to cope with such an immense emergency. I ask you, dear brothers and sisters, to join me in prayer for them. Let us beg the Lord that the spiral of hatred and violence will not prevail. May the Blessed Virgin, Mother of Mercy, fill the hearts of all with wise thoughts and peaceful intentions.

Today, my heartfelt sympathy is with the American people, subjected yesterday to inhuman terrorist attacks which have taken the lives of thousands of innocent human beings and caused unspeakable sorrow in the hearts of all men and women of good will. Yesterday was indeed a dark day in our history, an appalling offence against peace, a terrible assault against human dignity.

I invite you all to join me in commending the victims of this shocking tragedy to Almighty God' s eternal love. Let us implore his comfort upon the injured, the families involved, all who are doing their utmost to rescue survivors and help those affected.

I ask God to grant the American people the strength and courage they need at this time of sorrow and trial.

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