Pope Francis offers prayers for those affected by California wildfires

Residents embrace near the remains of destroyed homes Oct. 9 after wildfires in Santa Rosa, Calif. A series of deadly Northern California wildfires has killed at least 17 people, destroyed more than 2,000 buildings, including a section of Cardinal Newman High School in Santa Rosa. (CNS photo/John G. Mabanglo, EPA)

Pope Francis today assured his “heartfelt solidarity” and “prayers” for all those affected by the wildfire that is causing disasters in California. He mentioned in particular “those who mourn the loss of their loved ones” and those “who fear for the lives of those still missing.”

He also sent words of “encouragement” to the civil authorities and the emergency personnel “as they assist the victims of this tragedy.”

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Pope Francis expressed his closeness and concern to those people in a telegram to the archbishops of San Francisco and Los Angeles, Salvatore Cordileone and José Gomez, the text of which the Vatican released at lunchtime today. The pope met Archbishop Gomez earlier this week.

As is normal on such circumstances, the telegram was sent on Pope Francis' behalf to the two prelates by the Cardinal Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Oct. 13, “Wildfires ravaging Northern California have led to at least 31 deaths and the destruction of about 3,500 structures, including homes and businesses. The governor has declared a state of emergency in Napa, Sonoma and Yuba counties. Meanwhile, the Canyon 2 fire in Southern California has scorched thousands of acres and burned several homes.”

The following is the text of the telegram sent by the Vatican:

Informed of the tragic loss of life and the destruction of property caused by the wildfire in California, the Holy Father assures you of his heartfelt solidarity and his prayers for all those affected by this disaster. He is especially mindful of those who mourn the loss of their loved ones and who fear for the lives of those still missing. His Holiness offers encouragement to the civil authorities and emergency personnel as they assist the victims of this tragedy. To all he sends his blessing.  

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