Church, World Leaders Condemn Manchester Attack and Pray for Victims
Local bishop, Prime Minister May, Pope Francis and President Trump respond to terrorist attack and offer condolences.
MANCHESTER, England — After what has been deemed a terrorist attack killed 22 people — mostly youth — in Manchester Monday night, local Bishop John Arnold condemned the act, saying there is no justification for such violence.
“The citizens of Manchester and members of the Catholic community are united in condemning the attack on the crowds at the arena. Such an attack can have no justification,” Bishop Arnold said in a May 23 statement via the diocese’s Twitter account.
In a series of tweets, he thanked the emergency services “for their prompt and speedy response which saved lives. We join in prayer for all those who have died and for the injured and their families and all affected by this tragedy.”
The bishop stressed that “we must all commit to working together, to help the victims and their families and to build and strengthen our community solidarity.”
Bishop Arnold, who oversees the Salford Diocese that includes Manchester, made his statement in response to the attack at Manchester Arena Monday night at the end of a concert by American pop artist Ariana Grande, who is popular among teens.
A bomb exploded in the foyer of the arena around 10:30pm local time, as concertgoers were beginning to leave. At least 22 are dead, including children, and almost 60 are injured, according to reports. Police identified an 8-year-old victim on May 23.
The lone attacker was also killed in the blast. He is believed to have been carrying an improvised explosive device, which he detonated to cause the explosion, according to Manchester Police Chief Constable Ian Hopkins.
Investigations have not yet revealed whether the attacker was working alone or if he was part of a larger network or terrorist group. According to the Associated Press May 23, “Greater Manchester Police say they have arrested a 23-year-old man in connection with the apparent suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in the city.”
In a May 23 telegram addressed to victims and signed by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Pope Francis said he was “deeply saddened to learn of the injury and tragic loss of life caused by the barbaric attack in Manchester.”
The Pope voiced his “heartfelt solidarity with all those affected by this senseless act of violence” and praised the “tremendous efforts” of the emergency responders and security, offering his prayers for the wounded and those who died.
“Mindful in a particular way of those children and young people who have lost their lives, and of their grieving families,” the Pope invoked God’s blessings “of peace, healing and strength upon the nation.”
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, head of the Archdiocese of Westminster in London, sent a letter to Bishop Arnold May 23 expressing his condolences for the attack.
“It was with great sorrow that I heard the media reports of last night’s atrocity in Manchester,” he said. “May God welcome into his merciful presence all who have died. May God turn the hearts of all who commit evil to a true understanding of his desire and intention for humanity.”
“I assure you, and all those you serve, of the prayers and condolences of your brother bishops in England and Wales,” he said, adding, “We, too, mourn this loss of life. We pray for the eternal repose of all who have died.”
The Diocese of Salford announced that Bishop Arnold would say a special Mass for the victims May 23 at 12:30pm at St. Mary’s Church, commonly called the “Hidden Gem” and the Catholic mother church of greater Manchester. Another Mass will be held at the Salford cathedral at 7pm local time.
In a May 23 statement immediately following a meeting of the government’s emergency response unit, Cobra, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May called the bombing “a callous terrorist attack” that targeted “some of the youngest people in our society with cold calculation.”
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and the families and friends of all those affected,” she said, noting that the attack is “among the worst terrorist incidents we have ever experienced in the United Kingdom.”
“All acts of terrorism are cowardly attacks on innocent people,” May continued, but said the arena attack stands out “for its appalling, sickening cowardice, deliberately targeting innocent, defenseless children and young people who should have been enjoying one of the most memorable nights of their lives.”
Although he’s traveling abroad, U.S. President Donald Trump said during a joint appearance with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas Tuesday that the “wicked ideology” of terrorism “must be obliterated.”
“I extend my deepest condolences to those so terribly injured in this terrorist attack and to the many killed and the families — so many families — of the victims.”
“So many young, beautiful, innocent people living and enjoying their lives, murdered by evil losers in life,” he added. “I won’t call them monsters, because they would like that term; they would think that’s a great name. I will call them, from now on, losers, because that’s what they are.”
The U.S. Catholic bishops also expressed condolences and extended prayers: “We commend to the comforting arms of our crucified and Risen Lord the many who have died, and we entrust to Our Lady of Manchester those who suffer.”
The attack is the worst Britain has seen since a bombing on the London transport network on July 7, 2005, killed 52 people.
Link to USCCB letter added at 4:33pm Eastern.