Pope Francis has denounced the 'senseless acts of violence' in the Christchurch mosque shootings and is praying for the Muslim community and all New Zealanders.
In a telegram of condolences on Friday, Francis offered his solidarity and prayers to the injured and those mourning lost loved ones, and noted that it was a particularly difficult time for security and emergency personnel.
He said he was 'deeply saddened to learn of the injury and loss of life caused by the senseless acts of violence at two mosques in Christchurch, and he assures all New Zealanders, and in particular the Muslim community, of his heartfelt solidarity in the wake of these attacks.'
The message sent by the Vatican secretary of state ended by saying: 'Commending those who have died to the loving mercy of Almighty God, Pope Francis invokes the divine blessings of comfort and strength upon the nation.'
New Zealand police said late on Friday that 49 people had been killed at the mosques and around 40 injured, while three men and a woman have been arrested.
One of the men, believed to be Australian Brent Tarrant, has been charged with murder.