By Linda Bordoni
Pope Francis on Sunday prayed for peace in the Central African Republic and he expressed closeness and said he is praying for the many victims of a devastating fire in California.
Massacre in Central African Republic
“With sorrow I learned of the massacre that took place two days ago in a camp for displaced people in the Central African Republic, in which two priests were also killed” the Pope said to the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Angelus Prayer.
UN officials said more than 40 people were killed and dozens wounded in Central African Republic on Thursday in an attack on a Catholic mission sheltering 20,000 refugees. The attack took place in Alindao, east of the capital Bangui. Thousands of people were forced to flee when the mission was set on fire.
“Let us pray for the dead and for the wounded” the Pope continued “and let us pray that the violence will cease in that beloved country that is in great need of peace”.
Fire in California
Pope Francis then turned his thoughts to the hundreds of people affected by a devastating camp fire in California, United States.
“My special prayer also goes to those affected by the fires that are plaguing California, and to the victims of the frost on the east coast of the United States” he said.
The disaster in California has killed at least 76 people. Hundreds of searchers are sifting the rubble in the town of Paradise - that was burnt to the ground - looking for the dead, and nearly 1,300 people remain unaccounted for more than a week after the fire broke out.
“May the Lord receive the dead in His peace, comfort their families and support those who are engaged in rescue efforts” the Pope said.
World Day of the Poor
During the Angelus, Pope Francis also told the crowds that, on the occasion of today's World Day of the Poor, he celebrated Mass in St Peter's Basilica a Mass in the presence of many poor people who were accompanied by associations and parish groups.
“Shortly, he continued, I will be sharing lunch with many of them in the Paul VI Hall” and he said that similar initiatives of prayer and sharing are being promoted in dioceses across the world to express the closeness of the Christian community to those living in poverty.
The World Day of the Poor, the Pope said which involves more and more parishes, associations and ecclesial movements “aims to be a sign of hope and an encouragement to become tools of mercy in society”.
Lunch with the poor
After the Angelus, Pope Francis joined some 1500 poor people and 70 volunteers for lunch in the Paul VI Hall.