Church leaders around the world have offered prayers and messages of solidarity after the series of terrorist attacks in Paris last night which left at least 127 people dead and many more fighting for their lives.
“I am deeply shocked by the terrible tragedy which has befallen the city of Paris,” the head of the Church of England’s Diocese of Europe, the Rt Revd Dr Robert Innes, Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe, said. “I offer my fervent prayers for the families who have so brutally and suddenly lost loved ones, and for all who are struggling with serious injury.
“As a diocese we want to express our solidarity with the people of France at this dark time. Acts of terror against innocent people are totally abhorrent. We pray for deliverance from evil and that all the perpetrators and their accomplices are swiftly brought to justice.”
In a message to the two C of E churches in Central Paris – St George’s in Rue Auguste-Vacquerie and St Michael’s in Rue D’Aguesseau – the Suffragan Bishop of Europe, the Rt Revd David Hamid, said: “Once again violence and terrorism have struck France and the world is in shock. The numbers of dead and injured in the attacks across Paris must make this one of the deadliest of such crimes.
“Across the diocese this weekend we will be praying for the people of Paris at this time of national mourning, distress and fear. We pray for all who have died that our Loving God will welcome them into his arms. We pray that God will comfort all who grieve, as well as the injured and the fearful.
“And we pray that terrorism may be overcome and violent hearts turned to paths of peace.
“In the face of hatred we pray that we may show forth love, and in this time of despair we remember our calling to be lights in a darkened world. May the peace of the Lord be with you.”
The American Cathedral in Paris, part of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, was closed on Saturday and as a result had to cancel its Junior Guild Christmas Fair; but officials said that Sunday’s services would take place as usual, with a smaller Christmas Fair taking pace after its 11am service.
“Please come. We need to be together and to pray together, the Very Revd Lucinda Laird, Dean of the Cathedral, said. “Please keep our Cathedral community and the city of Paris in your prayers – especially the victims and their families. Most of all, pray for peace.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby, described hearing of the “desperate news of deep tragedy.” In a Tweet as the situation was being played out in the French capital, he spoke of the many broken hearts, and said: “We weep with those affected [and] pray for deliverance and justice.”
The Church of England has published a collection of prayers for peace on its website:
“Compassionate God and Father of all, we are horrified at violence in so many parts of the world. It seems that none are safe, and some are terrified. Hold back the hands that kill and maim; turn around the hearts that hate. Grant instead your strong Spirit of Peace – peace that passes our understanding but changes lives, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
• Full story at the Anglican Communion News Service.