On Thursday, Cardinal Angelo Sodano sent a telegram of condolence in the Holy Father’s name to Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister of Turkey, upon the news of yesterday’s terrorist attacks in Istanbul that targeted several buildings, including the British consulate.

In the telegram, John Paul II expresses his deepest condolences as well as his spiritual closeness to the Turkish nation and to the families of the victims. 

He asks the Lord to welcome the deceased into His kingdom and to grant strength and courage to the injured, their families and those who are involved in the clean-up efforts. “The Pope makes yet another appeal,” the text says, “in which he condemns terrorist activity which gravely affects innocent populations. Homicidal violence constitutes contempt for people and offends humanity.” 

“Dialogue,” “the message continues, “is the only dignified way for human beings to deal with tensions that pit people and human groups against each other.” 

“The Holy Father asks God, All-powerful, to enlighten the consciences of those who are involved in terrorism so that they themselves set out courageously on the path of peace,” the text concludes.

Seventeen people were killed Thursday after a bomb struck the British consulate, and another 10 died in the bombing of the HSBC building. Twenty of the victims were Turkish citizens.

Among the dead at the consulate was the British Consul-General Roger Short.  British Minister Robert Straw, who arrived in Istanbul late Thursday, said the attacks bore the hallmarks of Osama bin Laden's terrorist network. “It appears to be have been perpetrated by al Qaeda and its associates, and I stand by that statement,” he said.