Pope Francis has sent a telegram to Archbishop Jozef De Kesel of Mechelen-Brussels expressing his “deepest sympathy” after today’s terrorist attacks in Belgium.
He also condemned the “blind violence which causes so much suffering”, entrusted to God’s mercy those who died, and said he “prays for those who have lost relatives.”
At least 31 people were killed and many seriously injured in attacks at Brussels international airport and a city metro station on Tuesday.
The attacks came four days after Salah Abdeslam, the main fugitive in the Paris attacks, was seized in Brussels.
Here below is the full text of his statement, sent through the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin:
“Learning of the attacks in Brussels, which have affected many people, His Holiness Pope Francis entrusts to God's mercy those who died and he prays for those who have lost relatives. He expresses his deepest sympathy to the injured and their families, and all those who contribute to relief efforts, asking the Lord to bring them comfort and consolation in this ordeal. The Holy Father again condemns the blind violence which causes so much suffering and imploring from God the gift of peace, he entrusts on the bereaved families and the Belgians the benefit of divine blessings.
Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State of His Holiness.”
Belgium’s bishops also issued the following statement:
“The bishops of Belgium are appalled to learn of the attack at Zaventem airport and in the center of Brussels. They share the anguish of thousands of travelers and their families, aviation professionals and the first responders who are once again called to service. They entrust the victims to the prayers of all in this new dramatic situation. Airport chaplains are every day at the service of all and provide the necessary spiritual support. May the whole country live these days with a great sense of civic responsibility.”
Cardinal Péter Erdő also issued this statement as president of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE):
"Having heard this morning the news about the attacks carried out at Brussels Airport and on the Belgian city’s underground, in the face of this callous act, I assure the victims of my prayers and express my closeness to their families.
At this time of anguish, I call on people not to allow themselves to be overcome by fear and to pray for peace in Europe, in the Middle East and throughout the world."
Cardinal Péter Erdő, president of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE), Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest.
An Italian soldier guarding the area outside the Holy Office close to the Vatican -- EMP Photos.
The Vatican is not modifying its security measures in light of the this morning’s terrorist attacks in Brussels.
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told reporters today “there are no changes in the celebrations of Holy Week". Security is already on high alert at the Vatican after being stepped up in the wake of the Paris attacks of last November, and in view of the Jubilee of Mercy that began in December.
Vatican police guard the whole of the Vatican area discretely but visibly, and Italian soldiers patrol some key Vatican sites that border Italian territory.
"We are also ready for the Easter influx,” a security source told La Repubblica newspaper. “At the moment there are no situations that would require changes to the security systems that have been in place for some time," he said.