Pope Francis spoke out strongly on Wednesday against the “evil” behind the Cincinnati car crash that killed a woman at the start of the city’s Christmas parade, saying that this included words and ideas that are “love a little more,” humility, and even “with a little violence.”
“May good overcome evil, may this Holy Spirit inhabit everyone and fix the ugly things in people, which God himself destroys,” he said during his weekly audience in St. Peter’s Square.
The Pope expressed sorrow at what he called the “shocking death” of 61-year-old Rosalind Frances Downs, a widow, grandmother and vocal opponent of racism. She was the first victim to die after a car smashed into an animal shelter tent, mowing down an entire line of spectators just after the start of the city’s holiday parade, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported.
The car’s two alleged drivers — who the police have identified as James Robertson, 23, and Vivian Wolfe, 22 — both face multiple charges including reckless homicide and vehicular homicide, among other offenses.
“God’s plan of salvation is not a negation of the flesh,” the Pope said. “God is love, and he wants to destroy hatred and violence. He wants to save us, change us, heal us from evil. To save us, he employs violence to confront evil.”
“This violence is not simply destructive,” he continued. “He uses it to touch our desire for love, for respect and healing, to soften the hardness of heart. God loves us.”
Francis’s message emphasized “adoration, prayer, reconciliation, justice, love and peace” at this time of year.
“This year,” he said, “it is particularly important to recognize the role of the Holy Spirit in spreading these elements to the whole world, particularly to our brothers and sisters living in the United States, the vast majority of whom are composed of people who think, live and feel the same way as us who come from our own countries and continents.”
This was Francis’s second public statement about the tragedy. On Tuesday, he met privately with two Cincinnati women hospitalized for their injuries from the accident.