Pope Francis says using God’s name to justify violence is ‘blasphemy’

VATICAN CITY — After the deadly attacks in Paris claimed by Islamic State militants, Pope Francis said on Sunday that using God’s name to justify violence was sacrilege.

“I want to firmly repeat that the path of violence and hate does not resolve humanity’s problems, and using the name of God to justify this path is blasphemy,” the pope told thousands of pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square.

“Such barbarism leaves us stunned and we ask ourselves how the heart of man could plan and execute such horrible acts, which shocked not only France but the whole world,” he said.

The pope then invited the faithful to pray with him for the innocent victims of the attacks.

It was the first time the pope had spoken directly to the general public about the Friday attacks, though in a radio interview on Saturday he characterized the assault as inhuman.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks that killed 129 people, saying they were in revenge for French military action in Syria and Iraq. (Reporting by Steve Scherer; Editing by Andrew Bolton)

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