Local residents attend a candlelight vigil in the Dorchester section of Boston on April 16, where eight-year-old bombs blast victim Martin Richard lived. CNS photoLocal residents attend a candlelight vigil in the Dorchester section of Boston on April 16, where eight-year-old bombs blast victim Martin Richard lived. CNS photo

BOSTON, USA – Pope Francis responded to the bombings in Boston by invoking peace for the souls of the departed, consolation for the suffering and strength for emergency and medical personnel.

In a message sent to Cardinal Sean P O’Malley of Boston, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone said Pope Francis was “deeply grieved by the loss of life and grave injuries caused by the act of violence perpetrated” near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15.

The explosions left three people dead, including an eight-year-old boy, and more than 170 wounded.

Cardinal Bertone, Vatican secretary of state, sent the message on behalf of the pope. The text was released by the Vatican on April 16.

“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,” the message said.

“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, working together to build an ever more just, free and secure society for generations yet to come,” the message said.

Within hours of two explosions taking place near the finish line of the marathon, Cardinal O’Malley sent a message of prayer and support for those injured, their loved ones and those who experienced the trauma of the tragedy.

“The Archdiocese of Boston joins all people of goodwill in expressing deep sorrow following the senseless acts of violence perpetrated at the Boston Marathon today,” he said.

New York Cardinal Timothy M Dolan of New York, as president of the US bishops’ conference, urged all “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”.

“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,” he said.

Hundreds of people converged on Garvey Park in the Boston neighbourhood of Dorchester for an evening candlelight vigil on April 16 to remember eight-year-old Martin Richard, who died, and to pray for the Richard family.

Martin’s mother, Denise, suffered a brain injury and his six-year-old sister, Jane, lost a leg in the blast.

The two others killed included Krystle Campbell, 29, from Medford and Ms Lu Lingzi, 23, a graduate student at Boston University from China.

Martin’s father, Mr Bill Richard, released a statement before the vigil thanking family, friends and people they don’t even know “for their thoughts and prayers”.

“I ask that you continue to pray for my family as we remember Martin. We also ask for your patience and for privacy as we work to simultaneously grieve and recover,” the statement said.

Fr John J Connolly, pastor of neighbouring St Brendan Parish who lives at St Ann, led the prayer vigil, while Fr Sean M Connor, pastor of St Ann, stayed with the Richard family. CNS

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