US: Pope, Bishops Pray Victims of Deadly Tornadoes

At Least 70 Killed and Death Toll Could Rise

Explosion Victims in Haiti
Pope Praying - Copyright: Vatican Media

Pope Francis today joined bishops in the United States in offering prayers for victims of the deadly tornadoes that swept through the central part of the country late Friday and into Saturday morning.

“I also pray for the victims of the tornado that hit Kentucky and other areas of the United States of America,” the Pope said after praying the noonday Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

More than twenty people were killed in Kentucky, although the state’s governor says the death toll could rise to over 100. Forty people were rescued from a candle factory in the town of Mayfield, but as many as 70 others may have been killed when the twister hit. Tornadoes in four other states killed at least thirty more people, while the storm system also destroyed homes and businesses over a wide territory.

Bishop William F. Medley of the Diocese of Owensboro, Kentucky, called for parishes to take up a special collection for victims of the tragedy.

“In light of the recent catastrophic devastation across our diocese, I am requesting that each parish takes up a special collection at this weekend’s Masses,” Bishop Medley said in a statement released by the diocese. “Many of those injured in the Mayfield candle factory were parishioners, and others represented migrants and the marginalized in our communities. The Diocese of Owensboro, through our Catholic Charities office, would like to offer immediate help and services for those who are displaced or who have immediate emergency financial aid.

“I am proud of the many ways that your generosity always allows the Catholic Church to respond to the suffering and to families in crisis. So I thank you in advance for your generous response to this terrible devastation. God will bless our generosity.

“In addition, let us also unite in prayer as a Catholic community for all of the suffering that was caused by this disaster.”

Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, have issued the following statement after tornadoes tore through multiple states in the South and Midwest late Friday into early Saturday morning.

In their statement, Archbishops Gomez and Coakley call for prayer and assistance for all those who were in the path of the storm:

“It is heartbreaking to see the destruction and devastation brought by the tornadoes that tore through the South and Midwest overnight. During this Advent season where we await in joyful anticipation for the birth of our Lord, we pray for those who have been injured, for those who have lost their lives, and for their grieving families and communities. May those who have been impacted by these storms find peace, comfort, and hope in our faith and in God’s endless love. We also pray for the emergency responders and those who have begun the work of providing for the needs of the impacted in these communities in the recovery efforts. We entrust all our brothers and sisters in harm’s way to our Blessed Mother, and we ask for her continued protection and for her intercession in comforting those who are suffering.

“Catholics and all people of good will may help our brothers and sisters in their recovery by supporting the work of Catholic Charities USA at https://www.catholiccharities.us/campaign/ccusa-disaster-relief/c353051.”