This post has been updated:
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has postponed his visit to the Vatican today following Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris that left at least 120 dead.
Rouhani was scheduled to meet Pope Francis in private audience at 5pm on Saturday.
Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said that due to the terrorist incidents in the French capital and in coordination with the hosts, “the Iranian president postponed his visit to Italy, Vatican and France to a more convenient time."
“It is better now to focus on fighting terrorism and President Rouhani's trip to Europe will happen in the near future,' he added, according to the Iranian news agency, IRNA. Rouhani has condemned the Paris attacks as an "inhumane crime”.
The visit would have been the first by an Iranian leader to Europe in a decade, and followed a thaw in relations with European powers after the recent Iranian nuclear deal. It would also have been the first meeting between an Iranian president and a pope since March 11, 1999 when Pope St. John Paul II received in audience President Mohamed Khatami. Later, the premier attended John Paul II's requiem on April 8, 2005.
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi issued the following statement last night on the Paris attacks:
“Here in the Vatican we are following the terrible news from Paris. We are shocked by this new manifestation of maddening, terrorist violence and hatred which we condemn in the most radical way together with the Pope and all those who love peace. We pray for the victims and the wounded, and for all the French people. This is an attack on peace for all humanity, and it requires a decisive, supportive response on the part of all of us as we counter the spread the homicidal hatred in all of its forms.”
Pope Francis: No religious or human justification for Paris attacks
Pope Francis has called the attacks in Paris “a piece” of the “piecemeal Third World War.” In a telephone interview on Saturday morning with the Italian Bishops’ Conference official television network – TV2000 – Pope Francis said the attacks are “not human.”
“I am close to the people of France, to the families of the victims, and I am praying for all of them,” Pope Francis said. “I am moved and I am saddened. I do not understand, these things hard to understand.”
When asked if this is part of the “piecemeal Third World War” the Holy Father has mentioned many times before, Pope Francis said “this is a piece of it,” adding “there is no religious or human justification for it.” (Vatican Radio)
Pope sends message of condolence
Pope Francis sent a telegram Saturday morning to Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, Archbishop of Paris, assuring victims, their families and emergency personnel that he is united with them in prayer.
Signed by the Secretary of State of the Holy See, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the telegram condemns this and all acts of violence, and asks God to inspire thoughts of peace and solidarity. (Vatican Radio)
Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, Archbishop of Paris
Informed of the horrific terrorist attacks that occurred in Paris and at the Stade de France, killing a great number of people and wounding many others, His Holiness Pope Francis joins in prayer with the suffering of families affected by the drama and the pain of the French people. He invokes God, Father of mercy, asking that He welcome the victims into the peace of His light and bring comfort and hope to the injured and their families. He assures them, and all of the personnel participating in aid efforts, of his spiritual closeness. Once again, the Holy Father vigorously condemns violence, which cannot solve anything, and he asks God to inspire thoughts of peace and solidarity in all and to impart on families in this trial and on all of the French people, the abundance of His Blessings.
Cardinal Pietro Parolin
Secretary of State of His Holiness