By Linda Bordoni
“I wish to assure my prayers for the victims of floods that in the past days have struck Indonesia and East Timor,” said Pope Francis, speaking during the weekly General Audience on Wednesday.
The floods triggered by cyclone Seroja have killed at least 119 people across several islands in Indonesia, as well as 27 in neighbouring East Timor. Scores of people are still missing as rain continues to pound the region and hamper rescue operations.
The Pope said he invokes the Lord “to receive the dead, comfort their families, and sustain those who have lost their homes.”
Since the cyclone hit on Easter Sunday, hundreds of police, soldiers and residents have reportedly been digging through the debris with their bare hands, shovels and hoes in search for those buried. Thousands of homes have been damaged and thousands of people displaced by the weather, which is expected to continue until at least Friday as the storm moves south toward Australia.
Sport for Development and Peace
In a separate appeal, Pope Francis recalled the observance on Monday of the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, established by the United Nations.
“I hope that this might set in motion once again the experience of sports as a team event, to promote dialogue through different cultures and peoples,” he said.
And in that perspective, the Pope continued: “I am happy to encourage Vatican Athletics to continue their commitment to spreading a fraternal culture in the world of sports, placing attention on those who are weakest, thus becoming witnesses of peace.”
The Holy See launched its official athletics team in January 2019 after being accepted by the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI). The team of athletes includes nuns, priests, Swiss Guards, museum workers, carpenters and maintenance workers.