Church leaders in the US and Britain have offered prayers for Turkey following the Istanbul terror attack
Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster has offered prayers for the victims of the Istanbul terror attack, saying the atrocity had “shocked the world".
The cardinal, president of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, said in a message to Abdurrahman Bilgic, Turkey’s ambassador in London: “I would like to assure you that the victims, their families and wider society are very much in my prayers. I assure you, too, of the prayers and condolences of the Catholic community in England and Wales. We, too, mourn this loss of life. We pray for the eternal repose of all who have died."
He said the atrocity had “shocked the world and all who hold that respect for human life is an essential foundation for every society".
The attack on Istanbul’s Ataturk airport left over 40 people dead and over 230 injured.
Two US archbishops issued statements emphasising the need to find comfort in faith and to show support for those suffering with prayer and generosity.
Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, said: “Evil tests our humanity. It tempts us to linger in the terror of Istanbul, Paris, Brussels, San Bernardino [and] Orlando."
Christians should not focus on violence and let fear numb their compassion, he added, but instead should focus on faith and “reach out to our brothers and sisters in solidarity".
“As violence picks up its deadly pace, we can draw strength from God’s endless mercy," he added.
Archbishop Blase Cupich of Chicago said the attack during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan “showed a deep lack of respect for faith and human life."
In the Chicago archdiocese, Catholics joined Muslims to celebrate “iftar", the meal that traditionally ends Muslim fasting during Ramadan.
“Let the spirit of prayer and respect that pervaded that gathering grow in the coming weeks and months and leave no room for hatred and suspicion among our people," the archbishop said.
He also asked Catholics of the archdiocese to dedicate themselves to working for peace and understanding in the memory of those lost and injured.
Pope Francis led pilgrims in praying for peace and for the victims of the Istanbul terrorist attack after he recited the Angelus prayer with visitors in St Peter’s Square.
The attack took place in the international terminal and the parking lot of the airport when three suspected terrorists opened fire and, shortly after, detonated their suicide vests.
Although no group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told reporters that preliminary signs point to the Islamic State.
The terrorist organisation carried out a similar attack at Brussels airport and the Maelbeek metro station in Belgium March 22, which killed 32 people and wounded over 300.