.- On Tuesday Pope Francis offered prayers for the victims of attacks at an airport and metro in Belgium, condemning the acts as “blind violence” and praying for peace.
“Upon learning of the attacks in Brussels, which have affected many people, His Holiness Pope Francis entrusted to the mercy of God the people who have lost their lives and joins those close to them in prayer for the death of their relatives,” said Cardinal Pietro Parolin March 22.
The Vatican’s Secretary of State signed the letter, which was addressed to the Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels, Jozef De Kesel, on behalf of the Pope.
He said that Francis expresses “deep sympathy for the wounded, for their families and for all those contributing to relief efforts,” and prayed that the Lord would bring them comfort and consolation.
Pope Francis, he said, “again condemns the blind violence which has caused so much suffering, and he implores God for the gift of peace, invoking upon the grieving families and on all Belgians the benefit of divine blessings.”
The Pope’s prayers come after at least 34 people were killed and 170 more injured in March 22 attacks at Brussels Zaventem international airport and a city metro station near buildings belonging to the E.U.
Twin blasts hit the airport around 8 a.m. local time, tearing through the departure section. The BBC reports that a Belgian prosecutor said the blasts were likely caused by “a suicide bomber.”
According to reports, shots and shouts in Arabic could be heard before the blasts, and an undetonated suicide belt was found after the attacks.
An hour later, in the middle of rush hour, another explosion struck the Maelbeek metro station in Brussels.
The attacks have prompted Belgium to raise its terrorism threat to the highest level, and fall just four days after Salah Abdeslam, primary fugitive in the Paris attacks, was arrested in Brussels.
In a March 22 statement, the Belgian bishops said they were “appalled” to learn of the attacks, and said they share in “share the anguish of thousands of travelers and their families, aviation professionals and the first responders who are once again called to service.”
They offered prayers for all those affected by this “new dramatic situation,” and stressed that airport chaplains are available to provide the necessary spiritual support.