In a telegram addressed to Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic delegate in Jerusalem, the Pope "firmly deplores the new and brutal attack carried out in Jerusalem and assures his closeness to the relatives of the victims."
The message, sent on behalf of the Holy Father by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano, exhorts "the authorities and citizens not to be carried away by the absurd dynamic of violence."
The Pope proposes instead that they "intensify the commitment to make the longed-for hour of peace arrive sooner."
The attack occurred today when a suicide bomber exploded the device he was wearing on a bus. Fifty-nine people were also wounded, international news agencies reported. Several high school students were on the bus, and at least two of the dead were teen-agers, the Associated Press said.
Hezbollah television announced that the suicide bomber belonged to the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades.