Pope Francis Prays for Victims of Deadly Islamic Terrorist Attack in Somalia

Pope Francis speaks to the crowd on 12 June 2022 gathered in St. Peter's Square in Rome for the recitation of the Angelus on Trinity Sunday. | Vatican Media

Pope Francis prayed on Sunday that God may “convert the hearts of the violent” after an al-Qaida-affiliated terrorist attack in Somalia.

“As we celebrate Christ's victory over evil and death, we pray for the victims of the terrorist attack in Mogadishu that killed more than 100 people, including many children. May God convert the hearts of the violent,” Pope Francis said on Oct. 30.

Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud reported that at least 100 people were killed and nearly 300 other people were wounded by two car bombings in the country’s capital on Saturday.

Al-Shabab, a Somali-based branch of al-Qaida, claimed responsibility for the attack, according to the Associated Press. The extremist group said that it targeted the country’s education ministry, calling it an “enemy” that is “committed to removing Somali children from the Islamic faith.”

Speaking at the end of his Angelus address, the pope also prayed for the victims of a crowd surge at a massive Halloween festival in South Korea that killed at least 151 people, according to Reuters.


“And let us also pray to the Risen Lord for those, mostly young people, who died last night in Seoul from the tragic consequences of a sudden crowd surge,” the pope said.

In his reflection on Sunday’s Gospel, Pope Francis told the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square during life’s most difficult moments “Jesus always looks at us with love.”

“God's gaze never stops at our past full of mistakes, but looks with infinite confidence at what we can become,” the pope said.

The pope noted that Jesus looked up to see Zacchaeus in the sycamore tree in the Gospel of Luke.

“This is the history of salvation: God has never looked down on us to humiliate and judge us, no; on the contrary, he lowered himself to the point of washing our feet, looking at us from below and restoring our dignity to us,” he said.

More in Africa

“In this way, the meeting of eyes between Zacchaeus and Jesus seems to summarize the whole of salvation history: humanity, with its miseries, seeks redemption, but firstly, God, with mercy, seeks his creature to save it.”

Pope Francis encouraged all Christians to have the “gaze of Christ, who embraces from below, who seeks those who are lost, with compassion.”


The pope applauded the beatification of Blessed Maria Berenice Duque Hencker (1898-1993) in Medellín, Colombia on Oct. 29. He said that the foundress of the Little Sisters of the Annunciation spent her life “in the service of God and her brothers and sisters, especially the little ones and the excluded.”

“May her apostolic zeal, which prompted her to carry the message of Jesus beyond the borders of her country, strengthen in everyone the desire to participate, through prayer and charity, in spreading the Gospel throughout the world,” Pope Francis said.

Courtney Mares is a Rome Correspondent for Catholic News Agency. A graduate of Harvard University, she has reported from news bureaus on three continents and was awarded the Gardner Fellowship for her work with North Korean refugees.