(RNS) The Vatican sent a telegram to Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley on Tuesday, in which Pope Francis expresses sympathy for the victims of the marathon bombings and urges Americans to "combat evil with good."
Here's the full text of the telegram, as provided by the Vatican:
His Eminence Cardinal Sean O’Malley
Archbishop of Boston
Deeply grieved by news of the loss of life and grave injuries caused by the act of violence perpetrated last evening in Boston, His Holiness Pope Francis wishes me to assure you of his sympathy and closeness in prayer. In the aftermath of this senseless tragedy, His Holiness invokes God’s peace upon the dead, his consolation upon the suffering and his strength upon all those engaged in the continuing work of relief and response. At this time of mourning the Holy Father prays that all Bostonians will be united in a resolve not to be overcome by evil, but to combat evil with good (cf. Rom 12:21), working together to build an ever more just, free and secure society for generations yet to come.
--Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State
Here are some additional reactions to the Boston bombing from religious leaders in the U.S.
The U.S.-based Muslim Public Affairs Council said:
MPAC condemns this terrorist attack; this is a horrible crime, and we call on all of us as Americans to work together to bring those responsible to justice. The Boston Marathon is an annual, historic event with more than 28,000 people participating from all around the world. To attack those on what is supposed to be a day of jubilation is criminal and inexcusable.
Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori offered the following prayer:
Gracious God, you walk with us through the valley of the shadow of death. We pray that the suffering and terrorized be surrounded by the incarnate presence of the crucified and risen one. May every human being be reminded of the precious gift of life you entered to share with us. May our hearts be pierced with compassion for those who suffer, and for those who have inflicted this violence, for your love is the only healing balm we know. May the dead be received into your enfolding arms, and may your friends show the grieving they are not alone as they walk this vale of tears. All this we pray in the name of the one who walked the road to Calvary.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said:
The tragic end to the Boston Marathon April 15 reminds us all that evil exists and that life is fragile.
The deaths and injuries of people gathered for the celebration on Patriots Day in Boston calls on all of us to pray for the souls of those killed the healing of those injured and the restoration of peace for all of us unsettled by the bombings at a world renowned sporting event.
Our special prayers are with the Archdiocese of Boston and the people there who are working in the aftermath of this crisis to address those wounded in so many ways by these events.
The growing culture of violence in our world and even in our country calls for both wise security measures by government officials and an examination by all of us to see what we can personally do to enhance peace and respect for one another in our world.
Council on American-Islamic Relations director Nihad Awad said:
American Muslims, like Americans of all backgrounds, condemn in the strongest possible terms today's cowardly bomb attack on participants and spectators of the Boston Marathon.
We urge people of all faiths to pray for the victims and their loved ones and for the speedy recovery of those injured. We also call for the swift apprehension and punishment of the perpetrators.
While spiritual measures can serve to comfort those in physical and emotional pain, we also call on Muslims and others in the Boston area to donate blood through the Red Cross as a concrete show of support for the bomb attack victims. Those who were participating in the marathon or were watching the event should contact authorities with any potential eyewitness information they may have.