08/31/2005, 00.00
RUSSIA
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Orthodox and Catholics mourn together those who died in Beslan

On the eve of the first anniversary of the tragedy, Aleksij II invites the faithful to pray and show their solidarity to the survivors. The Metropolitan of Moscow says that "this year's attacks echo the one in Beslan".

Moscow (AsiaNews) – The Orthodox and Catholic Churches join together to pray for the "innocent who died" and share the "immense sorrow" of their relatives a year after the Beslan tragedy.

In a message published yesterday by Russia's national media, the Patriarch of Moscow Aleksij II expressed on behalf of the entire Russian Orthodox Church "his profound closeness and spiritual support for the inhabitants of Beslan and North Ossetia who lost relatives and dear ones".

"In days of sorrow and remembrance such as these," the press release said, "we are all united by the shared grief".

"As we weep for the victims of the attack and extend our condolences to those who suffer, September 3—a day devoted to fighting terrorism—I invite everyone to come and take part in funeral masses in all Orthodox churches and recite prayers for the souls of the innocent who were killed . . . women and children, teachers and pupils, the elderly and those who had just begun living".

In his message, Aleksij II expressed particular concern for the relatives of the victims, the ones "who are suffering the most". "Only human solidarity and praying can overpower the pain of loss and give the strength necessary to continue living," he said.

Mgr Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, Metropolitan of Moscow, is equally concerned about the survivors. "It is every Christian's duty to pray for the innocent who died and stay close to the living to help them carry the burden of loss," he said.

Metropolitan Kondrusiewicz noted that "throughout the year Catholics have never forgotten Beslan in their prayers and deeds".

"This is a tragedy we all share," he went on to say, "whose echo was heard not only around Russia but also around the world".

In his view, "every attack in 2005 that saw innocent people die—in the Mideast, Africa, Asia, London—echoes what happened in Beslan. Hence, the commitment to fight terrorism can and must be the unifying factor for all people of good will, irrespective of their religion."

The Metropolitan ended his statement by saying that the great world-wide solidarity that came in the wake of the events in Beslan "is a sign of the coming peace, which is the only alternative to every form of violence".

During these days of remembrance, people will repeat "Beslan, for you we remember, weep and pray" in Catholic churches and chapels all over Russia. A mass in memory of the victims of the massacre will be celebrated in Moscow's Immaculate Conception Catholic Cathedral on September 3.

Between September 1 and 3, a commando of Chechen and Ingush terrorists held about a thousand people hostage in Beslan's School Nº 1. The siege ended in a bloodbath with an official death toll of 330 people dead, with 186 children among them. The hostage takers were demanding the independence of Chechnya. 

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