Sunday, April 20, 2008

Pope visits Ground Zero to pray for 9/11 victims

Pope Benedict XVI prayed at New York's Ground Zero on Sunday, asking God to bring healing and strength to grieving families, and direction for people "consumed with hatred."

"We ask you in your goodness to give eternal light and peace to all who died here -- the heroic first-responders, our fire fighters, police officers, emergency service workers, and Port Authority personnel, along with all the innocent men and women who were victims of this tragedy simply because their work or service brought them here on September 11, 2001," the pontiff said.

He greeted dignitaries, including New York Gov. David Paterson, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine.

He was joined by 24 people he had invited to join him, including family members of people killed in the terrorist attacks and rescue workers who survived the attacks.

"We ask you, in your compassion, to bring healing to those who, because of their presence here that day, suffer from injuries and illness," he said. "Heal, too, the pain of still-grieving families and all who lost loved ones in this tragedy. Give them strength to continue their lives with courage and hope."

The pope also prayed for "those who suffered death, injury and loss on the same day at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Our hearts are one with theirs as our prayer embraces their pain and suffering."

He asked God to "bring your peace to our violent world -- peace in the hearts of all men and women and peace among the nations of the Earth. Turn to your way of love those whose hearts and minds are consumed with hatred."

He ended the prayer saying, "God of understanding, overwhelmed by the magnitude of this tragedy, we seek your light and guidance as we confront such terrible events.

"Grant that those whose lives were spared may live so that the lives lost here may not have been lost in vain. Comfort and console us, strengthen us in hope, and give us the wisdom and courage to work tirelessly for a world where true peace and love reign among nations and in the hearts of all."