[Vatican City – CNS] – Pope Francis called for solidarity and concrete assistance for all those affected by a devastating earthquake in Morocco.
As the official death toll from the Sept. 8 quake neared 3,000, the pope prayed for the people of Morocco at the end of his weekly general audience Sept. 13.
“We pray for Morocco; we pray for the inhabitants,” Pope Francis said. “May the Lord give them the strength to recover after this terrible ‘ambush’ that has passed over their land.”
Moroccan officials said at least 5,000 people were injured after an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.8 struck central Morocco near Marrakech Sept. 8 after 11 p.m. local time. The World Health Organization estimated more than 300,000 people have been affected in the region.
“I wish to express my proximity to the dear people of Morocco, stricken by a devastating earthquake,” the pope said after praying the Angelus with visitors gathered in St. Peter’s Square Sept. 10. “I pray for the injured, for those who have lost their lives — so many! — and for their relatives.”
The pope thanked rescue workers and “those who are working to alleviate the suffering of the people; may concrete help on the part of everyone support the population at this tragic time. Let us be close to the people of Morocco!”
Pope Francis also expressed his sadness, prayers and “deep solidarity” with the nation’s people in a telegram sent by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, Sept. 9.
The cardinal said that the Holy Father is praying for the repose of those who have died, healing for those who have been injured and consolation for those mourning the loss of loved ones and homes. The pope, he said, was praying God would “support Moroccans in this ordeal.”
The pope offered his “encouragement to civil authorities and rescue services” and invoked God’s blessings on everyone “as a token of comfort.”
© OSV News / Our Sunday Visitor, Inc. 2023 – from CNS Vatican bureau, used with permission