WASHINGTON (September 8, 2004) — The terrorist attack on a Russian school last week was particularly "horrific" because of its targeting of children and families, said the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, who condemned the attack and prayed for those who died and were injured.
In a letter to Archbishop Thaddaeus Kondrusiewicz, Chairman of the Episcopal Conference of the Russian Federation, Bishop Wilton D. Gregory of Belleville (IL) expressed the solidarity of the Catholic Church in the United States with those affected in Russia. In a nearly identical statement released to the public today, Bishop Gregory said the prayers of the Russian people "are joined with those of Catholic communities and congregations across the United States."
The full text of Bishop Gregory's statement follows:
"On behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, I wish to express our deep sense of shock and revulsion at the recent merciless attacks on the people of Beslan in the Russian Federation. This attack upon so many innocent children is morally repugnant and we express deepest sympathy to all the Russian people and in particular those most immediately affected by this assault.
"We commend the souls of the innocent victims to our most merciful God and pray for all those who mourn. At this time, we hope for the swift recovery of the injured and invoke the intercession of our Blessed Mother to aid the afflicted and heal the wounded during this period of great sorrow.
"We call upon people everywhere to join us in condemning this callous attack, made more horrific by its targeting of children and families on their first day back at school. We deplore all terrorist acts which serve as a sad reminder of the presence of violence in many parts of our world, places that cry out for the Lord's peace and reconciliation.
"As the Russian people continue their solemn period of mourning for the dead, their prayers are joined with those of Catholic communities and congregations across the United States. May Christ who called the children to Himself welcome the dead into His loving embrace and may the Spirit of God unite and strengthen all who hope for healing and peace."