ROME — Pope Francis through a spokesman has condemned the “homicidal folly” and “hatred” of the attack in Nice, France, that left 84 dead when a 31-year-old Tunisian plowed a truck into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day, a French national holiday.

“We want to make known, on the part of Pope Francis and ourselves, our sharing and solidarity in the suffering of the victims and all the French people, in what was supposed to be a great day of celebration,” said Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican’s spokesman.

“We condemn in an absolute manner every manifestation of homicidal folly, hatred, terrorism and attacks against peace,” he continued.

Early in the afternoon Rome time, the pope sent out a tweet with a similar message:

“I pray for the victims of the attack in Nice and their families. I ask God to convert the hearts of the violent blinded by hate.”

According to French reports, the number of fatal victims might increase in upcoming days, as 18 people are still in critical condition. Many more have less serious injuries.

On July 15, as spectators were marking the French national day with a fireworks celebration on the French Rivera, a large truck barreled for more than a mile through the enormous crowd until the driver was eventually shot to death by police officers.

The driver, Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, 31, was a father-of-three with dual French and Tunisian citizenship.

The death toll makes this the second deadliest terrorist attack in France’s recent history, with only the tragic events in Paris last November, when 137 people were killed in coordinated terrorist attacks, claiming a higher number of victims.

French President Francois Holland said in a televised address early July 16 that the “terrorist character” of the assault was undeniable, describing the use of a truck to deliberately kill people as a “monstrosity.” Yet French investigators had not made any direct connections between Bouhlel and a terrorist group as of July 18.

The attack came only 12 days before France put an end to the state of national emergency declared after the terrorist attacks last November.

In the early morning after the attack, several other religious leaders raised their voice to condemn the attacks, many through Twitter, such as Cardinal Vincent Nichols, of Westminster, Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney, Archbishop Eamon Martin of the Irish diocese of Armagh, and Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich in Germany, President of the Commission of Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community.

Sharing an image to allow a longer message, Archbishop Martin said that “the horrific scenes on the streets of Nice once more send shockwaves into our homes and hearts. How helpless we all are when someone decides to deliberately and indiscriminately target human life.”

Archbishop Martin also invited his followers to make an act of kindness this weekend, to “counterbalance with love this awful crime.”

Cardinal Marx pointed to France’s historic role as a beacon of liberty.

“We are shocked and saddened by this act of war. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their relatives and friends,” he said.

“I remain convinced that European civilization and the culture of freedom, to which France has contributed so much, will not be defeated by violence.”

Noemi Di Segni, president of Italy’s Jewish community, released a statement appealing to governments, institutions and ordinary citizens to react in a “lucid and compact way.”

Stating that on this day Nice represents the free and democratic world, Di Segni said that “we don’t give up living our daily lives like any other day. We’re stronger than he who sows any form of hatred.”

Rabbi Yossef Yitschok Pinson, of Nice’s Chabad House, told JTA on Friday that synagogue services and community events will proceed as planned.

“We will not let this affect us, we will not let fear affect or damage the life of our community, just as France will not let fear of terrorism change it,” he said.

Islamic leaders have also condemned the attacks.

The Al-Azhar mosque in Cairo, considered the most authoritative institution in Sunni Islam, urged unified efforts to “defeat terrorism and rid the world of this evil.”

In a statement released on Friday, al-Azhar said that, “These vile terrorist attacks contradict Islamic teaching.”

Saudi Arabia also issued a statement condemning the “heinous terrorist” act, adding that the country stands in solidarity with France and will “cooperate with it in confronting terrorist acts in all their forms.”

Pope Francis telephoned leaders of the terror-stricken French city of Nice, asking what he could do to help in the wake of last week’s attack.

Pope Francis made his call out of the blue on Sunday evening to Paolo Celi, head of “Amitié France-Italie,” a national association for Italians living in France, and to Christian Estrosi, mayor of Nice.

Celi told Vatican Radio that the pope called at about 7 p.m. Sunday evening “apologizing because he doesn’t speak French very well.”

“The first thing he said to me was, ‘What can I do for you?’” Celi said, recalling the conversation before he connected Francis to Estrosi.

Celi said the pope promised to meet “as soon as possible” with the families of the victims.

But, he specified, the date is yet to be set.

Speaking to Vatican Radio Estrosi said the Holy Father’s gesture has restored in him the energy he needs to go forward in this situation.

Estrosi also said the pope’s telephone call has been of comfort to thousands of people who are supporting the families of the victims.

“The image of all the flowers, the letters, the toys that have been put on the promenade to pay tribute to the victims is an image that no one will be able to forget,” he said, “but the pope’s words and the comfort he brings alleviates this terrible memory and gives strength and hope to all.” ÓÉä

Vatican Radio contributed to this report.