The Pontiff offered 'a paternal and fraternal embrace to all of France' after the lorry attack in Nice

Pope Francis has prayed for the end of “terror and death” of innocents as he expressed closeness to families and all of France mourning the loss of lives, “even of many children,” in the Nice lorry attack.

Francis told the public in St Peter’s Square on Sunday that “sorrow is great in our hearts” for the massacre in the southern French city last week, and prayed that God sustain the wounded and comfort relatives.

He prayed that God “disperse every plan for terror and for death, so that no man dare spill more blood of his brother.”

Francis then offered “a paternal and fraternal embrace for all of Nice’s inhabitants and all of France,” and invited those in the square to join him in silent prayer for the 84 Nice victims and their families.

According to Vatican Radio, Pope Francis phoned the Mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi via Paolo Celi, the head of  Amitié France-Italie’, a national association for Italians living in France, to offer his assistance in the aftermath of the attack.

Celi told Vatican Radio that the Pope asked, “What can I do for you?”, and the Pontiff also said he would meet with the families of the victims, although Celi said a date for this meeting was not specified.

Etrosi said the Pope’s call has been of comfort to thousands of people in Nice.

“The image of all  the flowers, the letters, the toys that have been put on the promenade to pay tribute to the victims is an image that no one will be able to forget, but the Pope’s words and the comfort he brings alleviates this terrible memory and gives strength and hope to all,” the mayor said.

On Friday, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, sent a message on behalf of Pope Francis to Archbishop André Marceau of Nice expressing the Pope’s deep sorrow at the attack that took place on Thursday night.

Archbishop André Marceau of Nice told Vatican Radio he experienced shock and fear following news of the terrorist attack, Catholic News Service reports.

“(The attack) was one of those insane acts that can arise in the hearts of men — and in this case, one man. How can it be reasonably possible that man can be the author of such carnage?” he asked.

The bishop said he hoped compassion and closeness would overcome the “scandal of evil” that might “rightly arouse hate, misunderstanding and closed-mindedness.”

“We must find a way to avoid this at all cost,” he told Vatican Radio. “The message I bring is that which, above all, calls people to be close to one another, to speak, to meet with each other.”