Pope Francis led thousands of people in prayer yesterday for the victims of Saturday’s earthquake in Nepal, during his Regina Caeli address.
After reciting the Marian prayer in St Peter’s Square, the Pope said: “I wish to express my closeness to the populations struck by a powerful earthquake in Nepal and in neighbouring countries. I pray for the victims, for the wounded, and for all those who suffer because of this calamity. May they be sustained by fraternal solidarity.”
The Pope then recited a Hail Mary for the people who died following the devastating earthquake. The current death toll is currently at least 3,326 people.
When news of the disaster first emerged, Cardinal Pietro Parolin sent a telegram on behalf of the Pope expressing his condolences. It read: “His Holiness Pope Francis was deeply saddened to learn of the earthquake and the resultant loss of many hundreds of lives in Nepal, as well as in neighbouring Countries. He expresses his solidarity with all affected by this disaster and assures those who grieve for deceased family members of his closeness in prayer.
“His Holiness commends the souls of the victims to the loving mercy of the Almighty and he offers encouragement to the civil authorities and emergency personnel as they continue their rescue efforts and assistance to those touched by this tragedy. Upon them all he invokes the blessings of the Almighty as a pledge of healing and consolation.”
In Britain, Matthew Carter, head of Cafod’s Humanitarian Department, said that the earthquake was “the worst earthquake to hit Nepal for 80 years.”
He added: “It will take some time before the full extent of the destruction is known. With power supplies down, there’s still virtually no news from remote villages near the epicentre, but the damage is likely to be extreme.”
The Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF) is appealing for donations to help survivors of the earthquake. The charity has already pledged £50,000 to help the initial emergency response.
SCIAF’s partner organisations have already been assisting with the relief effort, helping to rescue people and provide tarpaulins for survivors to sleep under. They are also giving out food, clean water, blankets and soap.
SCIAF director Alistair Dutton said: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Nepal. Our partners are already helping to rescue survivors and have provided tarpaulins for people to sleep under. They are also giving out food, clean water, blankets and soap. We are liaising closely with Caritas in Nepal and will do whatever we can to help them.
“The prayers, solidarity and generosity of the Scottish people are crucial to SCIAF’s response. I would urge everyone to join us in praying for the deceased and their loved ones, and give what they can so that we can get aid to those who need it most and help them make a full recovery in the weeks and months ahead.”
For information about how to donate to SCIAF appeal, visit www.sciaf.org.uk.