Pope Francis Condemns 'Plague Of Terrorism' After Turkey Attack

ReutersPope Francis condemned the Istanbul nightclub shooting on New Year's Day at St Peter's in Rome

Pope Francis has led world religious leaders in condemning the deadly New Year attack in an Istanbul nightclub.

A gunman murderd 39 people and injured dozens more when he opened fire in the popular Reina nightclub on the shores of the Bosphorous, 90 minuts after midnight.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby retweeted a Church of Engand prayer for the victims: "Restless with grief and fear, the abandoned turn to you: In every hour of trial, Good Lord, deliver us."

At least 69 people were taken to hospital with injuries.

Speaking to pilgrims and tourists gathered in St Peter's Square for the New Year's Day Angelus, Pope Francis departed from his prepared text to offer prayers for the victims.

He said, "Deeply saddened, I express my closeness to the Turkish people, I pray for the many victims and the injured and for the whole nation in mourning, and I ask the Lord to support all people of good will who courageously roll up their sleeves to face the plague of terrorism and the bloody stain that envelops the world with a shadow of fear and bewilderment."

New Year's Day is traditionally the day the Church honours Mary, mother of Christ.

In his New Year's Day homily, Pope Francis said: "Mary is the woman who can treasure, that is to say, protect and guard in her heart, the passage of God in the life of his people... She learned how to be a mother, and in that learning process she gave Jesus the beautiful experience of knowing what it is to be a Son."

He said mothers are the strongest antidote to individualism and egotism.

"A society without mothers would not only be a cold society, but a society that has lost its heart."

He said he had learned much from mothers whose children are in prison, or lying in hospital beds, or in bondage to drugs, or mothers who are in refugee camps, or caught up in war.