Pope Offers Closeness to People Struck by Natural Disasters

Mentions Madagascar and Brazil After Today’s Angelus Prayer

Closeness to People Struck
© Vatican Media

Pope Francis today offered his closeness to people struck by natural disasters. His remarks came after praying the noonday Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square and via media around the world.

“I express my closeness to the populations stricken in recent days by natural disasters,” the Holy Father said. “I think in particular of the southeast of Madagascar, ravaged by a series of cyclones, and the area of Petropolis in Brazil, devastated by floods and landslides. May the Lord receive the victims in his peace, console their relatives and support those who come to their aid.”

At least 14 people were killed in Madagascar this week by tropical storm Dumako, the state disaster relief agency said, as the island braces for another cyclone due to hit on Tuesday.

Some 4,323 were displaced when Dumako made landfall in the east of the country on Tuesday, the disaster relief agency said late on Friday. They were being housed in 12 sites.

The Indian Ocean island nation is going through its storm season. A total of 124 people were killed earlier this month when tropical cyclone Batsirai slammed the southeastern coast of the island.

Another cyclone, Emnati, is forecast to hit close to the same area affected by Batsirai, said Nomenjanahary Mamy Andriamirado, a weather forecaster with the national meteorological service.

The death toll from mudslides and floods in Brazil’s colonial-era city of Petropolis has risen to more than 120 people and is expected to increase further as the region reels from the heaviest rains in almost a century.

Heavy downpours in the afternoon Thursday, when the city recorded some 6 cm (2.36 inches) of rain, caused even more soil instability and disrupted efforts to find survivors and clean up the debris.

Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro has pledged federal assistance to help the area recover, after surveying the damage on Friday.

Pope Francis conveyed his condolences and prayers for the victims of floods and landslides in Petropolis, on Friday in a telegram sent on his behalf by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin to the city’s Bishop Gregório Paixão Neto.

In the telegram, Pope Francis says he is close to the families of the victims and participates in the grief of all those who have been bereaved or have lost their homes and belongings. The Holy Father is “asking God, father of mercy, for eternal repose for the deceased, comfort for the victims for whom he wishes a speedy recovery and the serenity and consolation of Christian hope for all those affected by this painful ordeal”, and sends his apostolic blessing to those who are suffering.

Also on Friday, the Pope expressed his condolences and solidarity to all those affected by the tragic sinking of a Spanish fishing trawler, several hundred kilometers off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada.

In a telegram sent on his behalf by Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and addressed to Archbishop Julián Barrio Barrio of Santiago de Compostela, the Pope said he is grieved to hear of the sad news of the shipwreck of the Villa de Pitanxo fishing boat, which occurred on February 15 in stormy seas.

Only three survivors of the 24-member crew were rescued; nine bodies were recovered. The search for twelve missing crew members was called off on Wednesday, 36 hours after the boat had sunk.