PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) – Pope Francis is grieving with Pittsburgh’s Jewish community following the massacre at a synagogue, denouncing the “inhuman act of violence” and praying for an end to the “flames of hatred” that fueled it.
Francis led prayers for Pittsburgh on Sunday in St. Peter’s Square, a day after a gunman who had expressed hatred of Jews opened fire in the synagogue during services, killing 11 people. Six other people were injured, including four police officers.
Police say 46-year-old Robert Bowers walked into the Tree of Life Synagogue yelling anti-Semitic slurs and shooting at worshipers while three separate services were taking place.
Francis prayed for the dead, injured and their families and said: “In reality, all of us are wounded by this inhuman act of violence.”
He prayed for God “to help us to extinguish the flames of hatred that develop in our societies, reinforcing the sense of humanity, respect for life and civil and moral values.”
Francis has frequently spoken out against religiously inspired violence and has denounced the easy availability of guns thanks to weapons manufacturers, whom he has called “merchants of death.”
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The Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office has now filed charges against the alleged gunman, which include 11 counts of criminal homicide, along with six counts of attempted homicide, six counts of aggravated assault and 13 counts of ethnic intimidation.
The attack went on for about 20 minutes and the FBI is treating the shootings as a hate crime.
Investigators say it appears that Bowers acted alone.
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