Benedict ‘Saddened’ by Virginia Tech Tragedy

Saying he was “deeply saddened,” Pope Benedict XVI offered his heartfelt prayers for the victims of the Virginia Tech University campus shooting, according to Deutsche Presse Agentur.

In a message to Richmond Bishop Francis DiLorenzo, the Vatican’s secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, said the Pope had asked him to “convey the assurance of his heartfelt prayers for the victims, their families and for the entire school community.”

The message said, “In the aftermath of this senseless tragedy he asks God our Father to console all those who mourn and to grant them that spiritual strength which triumphs over violence by the power of forgiveness, hope and reconciling love.”

President Bush to Visit the Vatican in June

President George W. Bush will meet with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican in June, the Associated Press reported April 14.

The president and his wife, Laura, came to the Vatican in April 2005 to attend John Paul II’s funeral, but the June meeting will be the first private audience between Benedict and Bush. The date of the meeting has yet to be decided, but the talks are expected to be held around June 9 or 10, said Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi.

Pope Urges Sri Lanka to Respect Human Rights

Pope Benedict asked Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapakse to respect human rights and restart negotiations with Tamil rebels during an April 20 meeting, the Associated Press reported.

Tamil Tigers have been fighting since 1983 for a separate homeland for Sri Lanka’s 3.1 million mostly Hindu Tamils.

“In light of the current situation in Sri Lanka, the need to respect human rights and restart the path of dialogue and negotiations was stressed, as the only path to put an end to the violence that has bloodied the island,” a Vatican statement said. “The Catholic Church, which offers a significant contribution to the life of the country, will intensify the delicate commitment to form consciences, with the sole aim of favoring the common good, reconciliation and peace.”