.- The Orthodox Patriarch of Moscow and the Latin Catholic Archbishop of Moscow have reacted to the Moscow Metro bombings with bewilderment and pain. Catholic Mass attendees missed the attacks by “a matter of minutes.”
Several dozen people were killed and more than 100 injured in the attacks, reportedly carried out by two female suicide bombers. Chechen rebels are suspected.
The first attack struck a station near the headquarters of the F.S.B., the security agency which succeeded the Soviet-era K.G.B. According to the New York Times, officials suspect that attack was intended as a message to the security services which helped lead the crackdown on Islamic extremism in Chechnya and other parts of the Caucasus region.
Moscow’s mayor Yuri M. Luzhkov said the attacks came when there would be “the maximum number of victims.”
Archbishop Paolo Pezzi of the Archdiocese of the Mother of God in Moscow told SIR News that the bombs went off when Mass was being celebrated in two churches near the bombed areas. The archdiocese had feared the faithful were among the victims.
“Luckily though, we found everyone was there, it was a matter of minutes.”
Archbishop Pezzi said any further comments on the attack would be “uncalled for.”
He said “bewilderment” is strong because the attacks hit “innocent, simple people.”
The archbishop said the Catholic churches of Moscow and St. Petersburg will pray for the victims and for the good of the city and its residents, especially at the upcoming Chrism Mass.
Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia issued a statement saying his heart “pains” over the terrorist acts.
“I am praying for the rest of the victims’ souls, for consolation of their near and dear, and for the soonest recovery of the wounded. I beseech the Lord to help the rescuers, medical workers, and all who are trying to alleviate the consequences. I have instructed clergymen to visit the injured persons in hospitals.”
The attack is not the first in Russia in recent months, he noted.
“We see clearly that peril is lying in wait for all of us at any minute,” Patriarch Kirill continued. “However, we should not respond to it by fear, panic, or animosity. Let our response be the unity of our people, their strong will to stop the terrorists and those who support, finance, or justify them. God’s retribution will come to them. I believe that human justice will not be a long time coming, too.”