Pope Francis expresses “spiritual closeness” with Sydney after Bondi knife attack

Pope Francis expresses “spiritual closeness” with Sydney after Bondi knife attack

Emergency services are seen at Bondi Junction after multiple people were stabbed inside the Westfield Bondi Junction shopping centre in Sydney, Saturday, 13 April 2024. (AAP Image/Steven Saphore)

Pope Francis has expressed his “spiritual closeness” with Australia after 40-year-old Joel Cauchi killed six people in a knife rampage at Bondi Junction Westfield on Saturday, with several others injured, including a 9-month-old baby.

“Pope Francis was deeply saddened to learn of the violent attack in Sydney, and he sends the assurance of his spiritual closeness to all affected by this senseless tragedy, especially those who are now mourning the loss of a loved one,” Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, said in a telegram to the Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher OP, on behalf of the pope.

“He likewise offers his prayers for the dead, the injured, as well as the first responders, and invokes upon the nation the divine blessings of consolation and strength.”

Catholics in Sydney’s Eastern suburbs have been shocked by the attack, with Masses and prayers offered for the victims.

The parishes of St Anne’s and St Patrick’s, Bondi, and Mary Immaculate Waverley, will both offer Masses today for the repose of the victims, at 8am, 10am and 5pm at Bondi, and 9:15am and 5pm at Waverley.

“The Parish community is shocked by the terrible events which have occurred at Bondi Junction today. We join with all those praying for the victims and families affected by these horrific events,” the Bondi parish posted on Facebook on Saturday evening.

“It’s difficult to comprehend such an event occurring in our usual peaceful community,” Mary Immaculate posted.

Daniel Ang, Director of the Sydney Centre for Evangelisation, posted on X (formerly Twitter) on Saturday night that Sydneysiders were praying for the victims of the attack.

“We join in prayer for the victims & families affected by the horrific events at Bondi Junction today,” Ang wrote.

Cauchi, a Queenslander, was known to police and was named on Sunday morning as the attacker.

His victims included 38-year-old osteopath and mother Ashlee Good, who died from her wounds at St Vincent’s Hospital, and her nine-month-old daughter, who is reportedly in a critical but stable condition.

“She handed us the baby and said ‘please help, help’,” a witness told Channel Nine at the scene.

“She was bleeding from her head, her face … the baby was bleeding,” he said.

Cauchi’s violent spree was ended by NSW Police Inspector Amy Scott, who entered the Westfield shopping centre alone, confronting the knifeman and opening fire.

The attacker died on the scene and Scott has been praised for her heroism by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and King Charles.

“She entered the proceedings that were taking place, obviously very dangerous, by herself. She is certainly a hero. There is no doubt that she saved lives through her actions,” the prime minister said.

“My wife and I were utterly shocked and horrified to hear of the tragic stabbing incident in Bondi,” King Charles said Saturday night.

“Our hearts go out to the families and loved ones who have been so brutally killed during such a senseless attack.

“While details of these shocking circumstances are still emerging, our thoughts are also with those were involved in the response, and we give thanks to the bravery of the first responders and emergency services.”

More to come.

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