Pope horrified by deadly attack in Orlando

Pope Francis gives the Wednesday general audience in St Peters Square on Oct 2 2013 Credit Elise Harris CNA CNA Pope Francis prays at the General Audience in St. Peter's Square, Oct. 2, 2013. | Elise Harris/CNA.

Pope Francis has offered his prayers and compassion for those affected by Saturday night's shooting at a nightclub in Orlando.

In a June 12 statement Fr. Federico Lombardi, the Holy See press officer, said the "terrible massacre," which has left a "dreadfully high number of innocent victims, has caused in Pope Francis, and in all of us, the deepest feelings of horror and condemnation, of pain and turmoil before this new manifestation of homicidal folly and senseless hatred."

"Pope Francis joins the families of the victims and all of the injured in prayer and in compassion," the statement reads. "Sharing in their indescribable suffering he entrusts them to the Lord so they may find comfort."

"We all hope that ways may be found, as soon as possible, to effectively identify and contrast the causes of such terrible and absurd violence which so deeply upsets the desire for peace of the American people and of the whole of humanity."

At least 50 people were killed and 53 were injured in the early hours of June 12 when a gunman identified as 29-year-old Omar Mateen exchanged fire with a police officer working at Pulse nightclub, which caters to gay clientele.

Mateen, who was from Florida and was of Afghan descent, took hostages for as much as three hours, and was shot to death by Swat officers. Though the mass violence is thought to be ideologically motivated, he was not known to have links to any terrorist groups.

The death toll makes the Orlando shooting the worst in United States history.

Bishop John Noonan of Orlando tweeted on Sunday saying, "We pray for victims of the mass shooting in Orlando this morning, their families & our first responders. May the Lord's Mercy be upon us."

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