While marking the Christian Pentecost, Pope Francis offered prayers for the victims of the Muslim terror attack in London and their families. At the end of the Mass on Pentecost Sunday, the pontiff prayed, “May the Holy Spirit grant peace to the whole world.” Pope Francis added, “May He heal the wounds of war and of terrorism, which even this [Saturday] night, in London, struck innocent civilians: let us pray for the victims and their families.” He did not name Islamic terrorism as the culprit.
Seven people were killed by three Muslim terrorists on Saturday night in London. Crying “This is for Allah!” the trio drove a van that mowed down pedestrians on London Bridge. They then went into the Borough Market district, where they stabbed several innocent persons before being shot to death by police. Five arrests have followed the attack.
In his homily during the Mass, Pope Francis spoke on the role of the Holy Spirit in the salvation of mankind. Speaking to thousands assembled in St. Peter’s Square, he preached a homily on the actions of the Holy Spirit that are found in the Scriptural readings for the day. “[F]irst,” said Pope Francis, “[the Holy Spirit] he rests on each [of the disciples] and then brings all of them together in fellowship,” giving each a gift for the good of the new community He has created. “The same Spirit creates diversity and unity, and in this way forms a new, diverse and unified people: the universal Church.”
The pope said that there are two recurrent temptations that must be avoided. “The first temptation seeks diversity without unity,” he said. “The opposite temptation is that of seeking unity without diversity.”
Pope Francis went on to say, “The prayer we make to the Holy Spirit is for the grace to receive His unity, a glance that, leaving personal preferences aside, embraces and loves His Church, our Church. It is to accept responsibility for unity among all, to wipe out the gossip that sows the darnel of discord and the poison of envy, since to be men and women of the Church means being men and women of communion. It is also to ask for a heart that feels that the Church is our Mother and our home, an open and welcoming home where the manifold joy of the Holy Spirit is shared.”
The second new thing brought by the Spirit is a new heart, given to the disciples and to us for the forgiveness of sins. “Jesus does not condemn [the disciples] for having denied and abandoned Him during His passion, but instead grants them the spirit of forgiveness. The Spirit is the first gift of the Risen Lord, and is given above all for the forgiveness of sins,” Pope Francis said.
“[F]orgiveness is gift to the highest degree: it is the greatest love of all. It preserves unity despite everything, prevents collapse, and consolidates and strengthens. Forgiveness sets our hearts free and enables us to start afresh.”
On Friday, Pope Francis published greetings to Muslims marking Ramadan. Titled “Message for the Month of Ramadan and 'Id Al-Fitr,” the statement was signed on his behalf by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran and Bishop Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, President and Secretary of the Christians and Muslims: Caring for our Common Home (MCCl) respectively.
“We wish to assure you of our prayerful solidarity during this time of fasting in the month of Ramadan and the celebration of ‘Id al–Fitr that concludes it, and we extend to you our heartfelt best wishes for serenity, joy and abundant spiritual gifts. This year’s Message is especially timely and significant: fifty years ago, in 1967, only three years after the establishment of this Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (PCID) by Pope Paul VI on 19 May 1964, the first Message was sent for this occasion.
“In the years that have followed, two Messages have been particularly important: the Message of 1991, during the pontificate of Pope John Paul II, entitled 'The Path of Believers is the Way of Peace', and the Message of 2013, in the first year of Pope Francis’ pontificate, entitled 'Promoting Mutual Respect through Education'. Both Messages were signed by the Pontiffs,” the Pope said.
He said that the experience of both religious communities affirms the value of this message for promoting cordial relations between Christian and Muslim neighbors and friends, by offering insights on current and pressing issues.