It was the key passage of the cardinal's homily, delivered during a funeral Mass on Tuesday night in the cathedral of Almudena, in memory of the 201 dead. About 4,000 attended the Mass.
"With how much intensity we must pray, brothers, for the conversion of the killers, who denigrate and brutalize themselves and threw themselves into eternal damnation if they reject all repentance!" the cardinal archbishop of Madrid said.
"Terrorism can destroy our lives and snatch our loved ones; it can throw us into the most intense and inexplicable sorrow," he said.
"But it will never be able to take away from us the certainty that the death of Christ, who died for each and every man, has opened for us the doors of a hope that is nourished, even against all hope, with the Life that comes to us from God," the prelate added.
"To kill a fellow human being, to murder a brother, is to attack God himself, the only One who has in his hands the keys of life and death," the cardinal said.
At the end of the Mass, Cardinal Rouco thanked John Paul II and bishops' conferences worldwide for their closeness and prayer, a "living example of the communion in the charity and prayer of the universal Church, which allows us to see the event as a sign of hope, through which international terrorism, and that of Spain, can be defeated."