On Thursday, Pope Francis celebrated Mass by commemorating the victims in the terrorist attacks on Charlie Hebdo and defending the importance of free speech.
“The terror attack in Paris brings to mind so much cruelty, human cruelty, so much terrorism, both isolated terrorism and of state terrorism,” the 78-year-old pontiff said, according to Vatican radio.
“We pray for the victims of this cruelty, so many of them. And we pray also for the perpetrators of such cruelty, that the Lord might change their hearts,” he said.
In a letter to the Archbishop of Paris, Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, Francis said he was “united in prayer (with)… the sadness of all French people.”
At the Vatican Thursday, Four French imams signed a joint declaration for interreligious dialog.
“Without liberty of expression, the world is in danger,” said the declaration. “It is imperative to oppose hate and every form of violence which destroys human life, violates people’s dignity, (and) radically threatens the fundamental good of peaceful coexistence beyond the differences of nationality, religion and culture."
Imams Tareq Oubrou, Azzedine Gaci, Mohammed Moussaoui and Djelloul Seddiki signed the declaration.