Pope, US Bishops praying for victims of deadly tornadoes
By Christopher Wells
Following the Angelus on Sunday, Pope Francis said he is praying for victims of the tornadoes that struck at least five U.S. states on Sunday, causing widespread devastation and leaving scores of people feared dead.
United in prayer
More than twenty people were killed in Kentucky, although the state's governor says the death toll could rise to over 100. Forty people were rescued from a candle factory in the town of Mayfield, but as many as 70 others may have been killed when the twister hit. Tornadoes in four other states killed at least thirty more people, while the storm system also destroyed homes and businesses over a wide territory.
Bishop William Medley of Owensboro, whose diocese was particularly hard hit, has called for the Catholic community to “unite in prayer… for all of the suffering that was caused by the disaster.”
He said in a statement issued Saturday that in light of the “catastrophic devastation” throughout the diocese, he was requesting each parish to take up a special collection to assist victims. He noted that the diocese, through its Catholic Charities office, is ready to offer “immediate help and services for those who are displaced or who have immediate need of emergency financial aid.”
Prayers for peace, comfort, hope
At the national level, the president of the U.S. Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, and the chair of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City, added their prayers for those dead and injured, and for their grieving families and communities. “May those who have been impacted by these storms find peace, comfort, and hope in our faith and in God’s endless love.”
In their statement, the archbishops also prayed for emergency responders and those who are reaching out to assist the affected communities in recovery efforts. “We entrust all our brothers and sisters in harm’s way to our Blessed Mother,” they said, adding, “we ask for her continued protection and for her intercession in comforting those who are suffering.”
The USCCB leaders noted that “Catholics and all people of good will may help our brothers and sisters in their recovery by supporting the work of Catholic Charities USA at https://www.catholiccharities.us/campaign/ccusa-disaster-relief/c353051.