Pope Francis has condemned the “blind violence” of the terrorist attacks that took place in Brussels on Tuesday morning, which have killed over 30 people.
Two explosions hit Zaventem airport in the Belgian capital and there was also an explosion at Maelbeek Metro Station.
According to Belgium’s health minister, the airport explosions killed 11 people and left 81 people injured, while the mayor of Brussels has said at least 20 people were killed and 100 injured, 17 seriously, at the metro station..
In a telegram, sent on the Pope’s behalf by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, to Archbishop Jozef De Kesel of Malines-Bruxelles.
“Having learned of the attacks in Brussels, affecting many people, His Holiness Pope Francis entrusts the deceased to God’s mercy and joins in prayer in the suffering of their relatives,” the telegram said.
“He expresses his deepest sympathy for the injured and their families, and all those who contribute to the rescue operations, asking the Lord to bring them comfort and consolation in their ordeal.
“The Holy Father again condemns the blind violence which causes so much suffering, and imploring of God the gift of peace, he invokes for the bereaved families and the Belgian people the consolation of divine blessings”.
A spokesman for the Vatican has said that the Pope’s Holy Week schedule will not be affected by the events in Belgium.
Meanwhile, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, has written to the Belgian Ambassador to Britain and Archbishop De Kesel to express his sympathy.
Writing to Archbishop De Kesel, Cardinal Nichols said that the news of the terrorist attacks had “shocked and dismayed us all”.
“May God grant strength and enduring faith to all who bereaved, injured and traumatised,” he wrote.
“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.”
In his letter to Ambassador Guy Trouveroy, Cardinal Nichols said that the bombings had “shocked the world and all that hold human life is an essential foundation for every society”.
The cardinal added: “I assure of the prayers and condolences of the Catholic community in England and Wales, We, too, mount this loss of life. We pray for the eternal repose of all who have died.”
In a statement released earlier, Belgium’s bishops spoken of their “dismay” and “anguish” at the bombings.
“The bishops of Belgium are dismayed by the attack in Zaventem airport and the centre of Brussels,” a statement said.
“They share the anguish of thousands of travellers and their families, aviation professionals and rescue teams. They ask everyone to pray for the victims in this new dramatic situation.”