Pope Francis on Friday condemned the massacre of 147 students in Kenya that saw Christians targeted as an act of “senseless brutality” and said he would pray for the perpetrators to change.
The pontiff’s feelings were expressed in a telegram send by his Secretary of State Pietro Parolin to Cardinal John Njue, the President of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops, on Good Friday, the holiest day of the year in the Christian calendar.
“Deeply saddened by the immense and tragic loss of life caused by the recent attack on the Garissa University College, the Holy Father sends assurances of his prayers and spiritual closeness to the families of the victims and to all Kenyans at this painful time,” the telegram read.
“In union with all people of good will throughout the world, His Holiness condemns this act of senseless brutality and prays for a change of heart among its perpetrators.”
The day-long siege of Garissa University just before Easter was the work of Somalia’s Shebab Islamists and Kenya’s deadliest attack since the 1998 US embassy bombings.
A Shebab spokesman has said the attack on a campus near the border with Somalia was carried out in revenge for the presence of Kenyan troops in Somalia.
Hurling grenades and firing automatic rifles, the gunmen stormed the university as students were sleeping, shooting dead dozens before setting Muslims free and holding Christians and others hostage.