Shooting of pope shocks the world

World leaders condemned the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II Wednesday and sent wishes for a speedy recovery. President Reagan, shot and wounded six weeks ago, prayed for the pontiff. People in his native Poland wept in the streets.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth said in a message to the Vatican she 'was horrified and shocked to hear of the attack on the life of his holiness. Prince Philip and I send our prayers for his recovery.'


The archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Robert Runcie, said he was shocked and, 'with Christians all over the world, pray for him as he under goes surgery at this moment. May God grant Pope John Paul a full recovery.'

Reagan, shot in the chest by a gunman March 30, was informed by counselor Edwin Meese of the shooting in Vatican City.

'The president expressed shock and his words were, 'I'll pray for him,'' acting press secretary Larry Speakes said. Reagan in a latter statement said the shooting 'horrified' him.


Turkey released a statement saying, 'The sorrow felt by the Turkish government is all the greater since this dastardly attempt has been made by someone who is maintaining his Turkish citizenship but who by nature is far from being a Turk.'

The statement also said Turkey was asking Italian authorities to extradite the accused, Mehmet Ali Agca -- once he was free of obligations to Italian justice -- to his native land, where he is under a death sentence.

Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin said of the shooting, 'It's impossible to understand this, This is an awful thing, disgusting.

'The first thing I'm going to do is send an urgent message with blessings for the pope's recovery in the name of all the people of Israel.'

Polish television broke into its programming with a special news flash and continued with updates including live coverage from the Vatican and extensive filmed reports from Italian television.

'The news spread like lightning around the country, causing pain and anger,' the official Polish news agency PAP said.

Motorists were seen weeping as they listened to their car radios while pedestrians gathered to cry and discuss the news.

'It's terrible. It's a tragedy for Poland,' said a high school girl who burst into tears upon hearing the news.


'The news about the criminal attempt on thie life of your holiness comes as a great shock to the Polish nation and the authorities,' said a message sent by Communist Party leader Stanislaw Kania, Prime Minister Wojciech Jaruzelski and President Henryk Jablonski.

Bogdan Lis, vice-chairman of Solidarity who is heading the union which chairman Lech Walesa is in Japan, said in a message, 'We are shocked by the news of the assassination attempt on your life.'

U.N. Secretary General Kurt Waldheim said the assassination attempt 'dramatically illustrates the need for the world to rise up in indignation and insistence on the end to all such violent acts'.

Canada's Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau said, 'One must wonder whether our world has become so barbaric that it is incapable of respecting the lives of God's own messengers of peace.'

Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi said, 'I am too shocked for words' when she learned of the shooting. Brazil's Primate Cardinal Avelar Brandao Vilela said, 'We couldn't have any news worse or sadder than this.'

China's Xinhua news agency reported the assassination attempt without comment in a two-paragraph dispatch with the headline, 'Pope attacked.'

Outgoing French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing was 'extremely shocked' by the news and President-elect Francois Mitterrand said, 'This is an act striking the whole mankind in the person of John Paul II.


Cardinal Emmett Carter of Toronto said he had 'lived in terror of this moment' and had warned his friend the pope at their last meeting, in March, that he wasn't taking enough precautions for his personal safety. 'The pope just laughed in reply,' said Carter.

West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt said in a telegram he learned of the assassination attempt with 'dismay and horror' and all West Germans had learned 'deep respect' for John Paul during his visit to West Germany last year.

The Italian Bishops Conference called the shooting 'an insane and sacrilegious criminal gesture.'

Spanish Prime Minister Leopoldo Calvo Sotelo said, 'As the president of a government which suffers from repeated terrorist attacks, I can only express my consternation and as a Catholic join with the rest of the religious world to pray for the recovery of his holiness.'

Latest Headlines