Pope Francis decried the deadly Pittsburgh synagogue attack and prayed that God would help the world “extinguish the eruptions of hatred that are emerging in our societies.”
A gunman, 46-year-old Robert Bowers, on Saturday stormed the Tree of Life synagogue in the historic Jewish neighborhood of Squirrel Hill during Sabbath services, killing 11 people in what is believed to be the deadliest act of violence against Jews in U.S. history.
According to the Washington Post, Bowers, apparently a supporter of the anti-Jewish alt-right movement, allegedly shouted anti-Semitic slurs during the attack. He was later arrested following an exchange of gunfire with police that wounded four officers and has been charged with a hate crime in addition to a slew of other charges.
Bowers apparently also espoused white supremacist views and was fueled by a hatred of immigrants and refugees.
The attack, along with other displays of bias-fueled violence, has sparked further concerns about the effect of a degraded civil discourse in America, and President Trump’s volatile rhetoric has come under special scrutiny.
In his remarks following the traditional noontime Sunday Angelus prayer, Francis expressed his “closeness to the city of Pittsburgh … and in particular to the Jewish community, which was struck yesterday by a terrible attack on the synagogue.”