Pope Francis said he was ‘deeply saddened’ by the news of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s death in a message to the people of Japan.
The pope gave the statement via telegram to the nation’s Apostolic Nunciature, the Catholic Church’s version of an embassy.
The statement, composed by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, offered ‘heartfelt condolences’ on the passing of the Japanese archconservative.
‘His Holiness Pope Francis was deeply saddened to learn of the assassination of Mr. Shinzo Abe, former Prime Minister of Japan, and he offers heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and the people of Japan,’ the statement said.
SHINZO ABE DEAD: JAPAN’S LONGEST-SERVING PRIME MINISTER WAS CONSERVATIVE KINGMAKER WHO STRENGTHENED US TIES
The pope went on to pray that the ‘senseless’ murder would not sway Japan from its historic commitment to pacifism and nuclear disarmament.
‘In the wake of this senseless act, he prays that Japanese society will be strengthened in its historic commitment to peace and nonviolence,’ the Vatican added.
Abe was assassinated Friday while campaigning in the Nara prefecture, a tragic end for one of Japan’s most successful and powerful postwar politicians.
Abe, the country’s first prime minister born after World War II, remains Japan’s longest-serving prime minister. He served from 2006 to 2007 and again in 2012 until he resigned in 2020 after his ulcerative colitis, a chronic condition, resurfaced. He called his decision at the time ‘gut-wrenching.’
Abe’s overwhelming success in office is reflected in the dominance of his Liberal Democratic Party, Japan’s center-right political party and the most powerful institution in Japanese democracy today.