Pope condemns Pittsburgh synagogue attack, calls for end to 'hotbeds of hate'

Pope Francis at the end of the Synod of Bishops at the Vatican on Oct 28, 2018.
Pope Francis at the end of the Synod of Bishops at the Vatican on Oct 28, 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS

VATICAN CITY (REUTERS) - Pope Francis on Sunday (Oct 28) strongly condemned the attack on a synagogue in Pittsburgh as an "inhuman act of violence", and prayed for the stamping out of "hotbeds of hate" and for stronger moral and civil values.

Speaking to pilgrims in St Peter's Square after a Mass, the Pope said that Saturday's attack, in which 11 worshippers attending a baby-naming ceremony were killed and six others injured, was "terrible".

“All of us, in reality, are wounded by this inhuman act of violence,” said Francis, who has often condemned anti-Semitism and who wrote a book with a rabbi in their native Buenos Aires when he was the city’s archbishop before his election as pope. 

Francis expressed his closeness to all the people of Pittsburgh “and in particular the Jewish community, stricken by a terrible attack on the synagogue”. He asked for prayers for the families of the victims and for healing for the wounded. 

“May the Lord help us to put out the hotbeds of hate that flare up in our societies, strengthening a sense of humanity, respect for life, moral and civil values and the holy fear of God, who is love and the father of all,” Francis said. 

Robert Bowers, 46, of Pittsburgh, was taken into custody after a shootout with a SWAT team. Federal prosecutors charged him with 29 criminal counts including violence and firearms offences, and violating US civil rights laws.