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 CNS Story:

POPE-SEPT11 Sep-10-2008 (250 words) xxxi

Former NYC fire commissioner asks pope to remember Sept. 11 victims

By John Thavis
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- New York City's former fire commissioner asked Pope Benedict XVI for his continued prayers for the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

In a brief encounter at the pope's general audience Sept. 10, Thomas Von Essen told the pontiff that only faith in God allowed him to survive the loss of so many friends and colleagues in the attacks seven years earlier.

According to the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, Von Essen asked the pope to remember in his prayers all those killed in the terrorist acts, including the 343 New York firefighters who died when the World Trade Center collapsed.

Von Essen also thanked the pope for his visit to ground zero during his April trip to the United States.

In a separate article the same day, the Vatican newspaper said the Sept. 11 attacks marked a dark day in the history of humanity. It called for greater international cooperation to stop "the plague of international terrorism."

"Sept. 11 demonstrated that something has changed forever in the world: The struggle against terrorism must be characterized by denying any type of moral justification to terrorists," it said.

The article recalled the pope's words of prayer at ground zero, where he met with survivors and relatives of the victims.

"God of peace, bring your peace to our violent world .... We seek your light and guidance as we confront such terrible events," the pope said in his prayer.


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