MONTABAUR, Germany - The pastor of the Lutheran church in Andreas Lubitz's hometown said Sunday that the community stands by him and his family, despite the fact that prosecutors blame the copilot for causing the plane crash that killed 150 people in France.
The town of Montabaur has been rattled by the revelation that Lubitz, 27, who first learned to fly at a nearby glider club, may have intentionally caused Tuesday's crash of Germanwings Flight 9525.
"For us, it makes it particularly difficult that the only victim from Montabaur is suspected to have caused this tragedy, this crash - although this has not been finally confirmed, but a lot is indicating that - and we have to face this," Pastor Michael Dietrich said.
In Rome, Pope Francis prayed for the victims of the crash, citing in particular the 16 German students returning from an exchange trip to Spain. He offered the prayer after Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Square.
Dietrich spoke to the Associated Press after holding a church service to commemorate the crash victims and support their families. "The copilot, the family belong to our community, and we stand by this, and we embrace them and will not hide this, and want to support the family in particular," Dietrich said.
He added that there is no direct contact with the family at the moment, but that he believes they are receiving good assistance. French prosecutors haven't questioned the family yet "out of decency and respect for their pain," Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin said.
Robin said that none of the remains recovered so far have been identified, denying German media reports that Lubitz's body had been found.
Dietrich, the pastor, said he knew Lubitz as a teenager, when he attended religious education 13 years ago, and his mother, who worked as a part-time organist in the community. "When I worked with her or talked to her, it was very good and very harmonious. We had good conversations," Dietrich said. "I know her and her family. This does not make sense."