By BosNewsLife News Center
WASHINGTON/PARIS/VATICAN (BosNewsLife)– The Catholic Church and other denominations have condemned an apparent Islamist militant attack on a satirical magazine that killed 12 people in Paris.
Pope Francis was among the first known church leaders to publicly offered prayers for the victims of the deadly terror attack on the Charlie Hebdo weekly in Paris on Wednesday, January 7.
Speaking during daily Mass in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence in the Vatican, Francis said, “[Wednesday’s] terror attack in Paris brings to mind so much cruelty – human cruelty – so much terrorism, both isolated [incidents of] terrorism and of state terrorism.”
He added it underscored “of how much cruelty is man capable!”
The leader of an estimated one billion Catholics said he wanted to use the Mass to both pray for the victims “of this cruelty – so many of them -” as well as for “the perpetrators of such cruelty, that the Lord might change their heart.”
Shortly after his comments, the Seventh-day Adventist Church said Friday, January 9, it sent condolences to France and praised its government “for supporting religious freedom” following the bloodshed.
“On behalf of the Seventh-day Adventist world church and its president, allow me to convey to you our deepest sympathy in connection with the terrorist attack on the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris on January 7,” the church wrote in a letter sent Thursday, January 8, by John Graz, director of its public affairs and religious liberty department, to French Ambassador Gérard Araud in Washington.
“We join in the pain of victims’ families,” it said in the letter quoted by the denomination’s Adventist News Agency and obtained by BosNewsLife.
“We pray for them and for those who were seriously injured We also pray for the beautiful country of France, which we love; for her people; and for you, who are representing her in the United States of America.”
Among those killed were the editor, top cartoonists, a house keeper and police officers. The magazine had been denounced by Muslim fundamentalists for its publication of depictions of the Prophet Mohammed, though it was also known for cartoons targeting Christianity.
In Washington, U.S. President Barack Obama paid his respects to the victims during a meeting with Ambassador Araud at the French Embassy.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church said its members have long been defenders of freedom of conscience and religion, and called those rights the foundation of all freedoms, including the freedom of expression.
“We thank France for these fundamental freedoms and its authorities for the freedom of expression and religion that they protect,” the letter said.
One suspect in the attack has turned himself over to police, while a search operation for the other two suspects was mounted in France.
The attack in Paris has underscored dangers faced by other groups, including Christians in Syria and Iraq, many of whom have been forced to flee amid ongoing attacks by Islamic State and other terror networks.