According to Vatican Radio, Sunday Evening, Francis called Paolo Celi, head of “Amitié France-Italie,” a national association for Italians living in France, and to Nice’s Mayor, Christian Estrosi.
During a Bastille Day celebration Thursday evening, in the French city of Nice, a terrorist of Franco-Tunisian descent drove a truck into the crowds that had been watching. The attack claimed 84 lives, and wounded dozens, leaving at least 15 -18 in critical condition. After traveling two kilometers, eventually the driver was killed in a shootout with the police.
During the Pope’s Angelus address Sunday at noon, Francis decried the horrific attack and said to the thousands in St. Peter’s Square, “I am close to each family and the entire French nation which is in mourning.”
Following the Argentine Pontiff’s out of the blue call later that day, Celi told Vatican Radio that Francis, during his call at about 7 p.m., he “apologized because he doesn’t speak French very well”.
Celi said the Pope promised to meet “as soon as possible” with the families of the victims. But, the authority specified, the date is yet to be set.
“The first thing he said to me was, ‘What can I do for you?’” Celi said, while recalling the conversation before he connected the Pope to Estrosi.
Estrosi, also speaking to Vatican Radio, said the Holy Father’s gesture has restored in him the energy he needs to go forward in this situation. The Pope’s telephone call, he added, has been of comfort to thousands of people who are supporting the families of the victims.
“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 expressed.