VATICAN CITY (CNS): Encouraging solidarity with the victims of the earthquake that struck central Italy on April 6, Pope Benedict XVI also promised to visit the survivors.
“My dear ones, I hope to come see you as soon as possible,” the Pope said on April 8 at the end of his weekly general audience, which is televised throughout Italy.
Shortly before the papal audience, Italian Government officials raised the official death toll in the city and province of L’Aquila to 250 people and said more than 1000 were injured, about 100 seriously.
The main quake struck at 3.30am on April 6. Hundreds of tremours followed, including an aftershock that caused more buildings to crumble.
At the end of his audience, the Pope said he wanted to reaffirm his closeness to the people of central Italy suffering because of the earthquake.
“Know that the Pope prays for all of you, imploring the mercy of God for the deceased, and he asks for the maternal comfort of Mary and the support of Christian hope for their families and the survivors,” Pope Benedict said.
Vatican spokesman Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi said a papal visit to the region was planned, but he said it would take place at least a week after Easter.
Fr Lombardi said Pope Benedict spoke to Archbishop Giuseppe Molinari of L’Aquila by telephone after the audience and promised that after his chrism Mass on April 9 he would send the archdiocese some of the sacred oils he blessed for use in the sacraments since the archbishop would not be able to celebrate a chrism Mass in his own cathedral.
Among the rescue workers assisting in the region were eight members of the Vatican fire department.
The quake, which was felt even 28.3km away in Rome, also did major damage in the town of Paganica, where it claimed the life of head of the Poor Clares’ Convent of St Clare Abbess Gemma Antonucci.
Archbishop Molinari told SIR that many of the churches in his diocese had been damaged or totally destroyed; his residence and chancery also were heavily damaged.
The Catholic Leader is an Australian award-winning Catholic newspaper that has been published by the Archdiocese of Brisbane since 1929. Our journalism seeks to provide a full, accurate and balanced Catholic perspective of local, national and international news while upholding the dignity of the human person.
The Catholic Leader acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the First Peoples of this country and especially acknowledge the traditional owners on whose lands we live and work throughout the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane.