.- Catholic leaders offered prayers and sent words of peace to those affected by the explosions at the Boston Marathon, encouraging the faithful to pray for those involved and for the souls of those who have died.
Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston expressed his “deep sorrow following the senseless acts of violence perpetrated at the Boston Marathon,” offering “prayers and concern” for those who were affected by the explosions, “especially the loved ones of those who lives were lost and those who were injured, and the injured themselves.”
The cardinal said that the city of Boston and all of Massachusetts are “blessed” for the first responders who aided victims. He praised the governor, mayor and police commissioner for “providing the leadership that will see us through this most difficult time.”
He also offered encouragement to the faithful, reminding them that in “the midst of the darkness of this tragedy we turn to the light of Jesus Christ, the light that was evident in the lives of people who immediately turned to help those in need today.”
At around 2:50 p.m. on April 15, two large explosions shook the center of Boston, near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. According to statements by the Commissioner Edward Davis of the Boston Police Department at an April 16 press conference, there have been over 175 injured, including 17 in critical condition, and three deaths.
U.S. President Barack Obama said the FBI is investigating the bombing “as an act of terrorism,” although the perpetrator and motive are not yet known.
A “deeply grieved” Pope Francis assured the people of Boston of his “sympathy and closeness in prayer,” calling for peace and efforts to “combat evil with good” through a memo sent via Holy See Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.
Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, also issued a statement on the event, saying that the “tragic end” of the marathon “reminds us all that evil exists and that life is fragile.”
“The deaths and injuries of people gathered for the celebration on Patriots Day in Boston calls on all of us to pray for the souls of those killed, the healing of those injured and the restoration of peace for all of us unsettled by the bombings at a world renowned sporting event,” he stated.
The cardinal also offered “special prayers” for the Archdiocese of Boston and those working to help the wounded and their families.
He called for sensible security measures in order to oppose a “growing culture of violence in our world and even in our country,” as well as “an examination by all of us to see what we can personally do to enhance peace and respect for one another in our world.”
Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, D.C., also grieved for those who were injured and deceased, saying that the event “stunned us all” and reminding the faithful that “our most powerful tool right now is prayer.”
“While at this time we do not know the cause of these explosions, we know that the answer to the world’s darkness is to open our hearts to the light of Christ,” he said.
“Our faith in the Risen Christ in such times of sorrow offers us the confident hope that death shall not have the last word.”
Several bishops from across the country also voiced prayers and concern on social media outlets soon after news of the bombing broke.
Bishop Kevin J. Farrell of Dallas posted a brief message on Twitter, inviting “all the people of Dallas to pray for those who have died and for those injured in the Boston Marathon bombing.”
“My thoughts and prayers are with the city of Boston and particularly with the spectators and runners participating at the Boston Marathon today,” said Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia, who reached out on Facebook to call for prayers and peace for all those impacted by the tragedy.
Auxiliary Bishop Christopher J. Coyne of Indianapolis, who was once a priest for the Archdiocese of Boston, posted a Prayer for Victims of Terrorism on Facebook.
The prayer calls on God to welcome “the victims of violence and terrorism” with love, offering comfort to their families and all those who grieve.
“Help us in our fear and uncertainty,” the prayer said, asking God to “bless us with the knowledge that we are secure in your love.”
“Strengthen all those who work for peace, (a)nd may the peace the world cannot give reign in our hearts,” it added.