Pope offers to help, meet families following massacre in Nice

IMAGE: CNS photo/Pascal Rossignol, Reuters

By Junno Arocho Esteves

CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis offered his help to the people of Nice in a surprise
phone call following a deadly attack during Bastille Day celebrations, said the
head of an association of Italians living in France.

Celi, president of the France-Italy Friendship society, told Vatican Radio that he
was shocked upon answering his phone and hearing, “Paolo, I am Pope

was a moment of silence from my part. Then he asked me to impart to the entire
city of Nice, to all the families of the victims, his message of solidarity and
comfort saying, ‘What can I do,'” Celi said in an interview published July

also said the pope expressed his desire to meet with the families of the
victims of the July 14 massacre.

also spoke for quite some time over the phone about a meeting in Rome in the
near future without setting a date,” he said.  

The pope
also spoke on the phone with Christian Estrosi, former mayor of Nice and
president of the Regional Council of Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur, Celi said. The
call, he said, gave Estrosi “the necessary strength in this

who had left the promenade shortly before the attack happened, also said he was
“greatly comforted” by the pope’s gesture.

his words, with his comfort, the Holy Father can alleviate this awful memory to
restore the vigor and desire for hope of all these people,” Celi said.

The July
14 attack took place when 31-year-old Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel drove a truck
through the crowds celebrating Bastille Day along Nice’s seaside promenade,
leaving 84 dead and over 100 wounded.

In his
remarks following the recitation of the Angelus prayer July 17, the pope led
pilgrims in a moment of silent prayer for the victims of the massacre “in
which so many innocent lives, even many children, were mowed down.”

God, the good father, receive all the victims in his peace support the wounded
and comfort the families; may he dispel every plan of terror and death so that
no man dares to spill his brother’s blood ever again,” he said. 

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