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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

General Audience praying for victims

This morning's General Audience began at 10:00am local time in Saint Peter's Square, where the Holy Father, Pope Francis was met by groups of pilgrims and the faithful from various parts of Italy and from every corner of the world.

Following the serious earthquake that struck throughout the night (last night) in Central Italy, the Pope decided to not follow the usual form for the General Audience.  Instead he recited the sorrowful mysteries of the Holy Rosary with those who were in attendance, and at the conclusion of the rosary, he greeted the crowds and called for peace in Ukraine.

Prior to the recitation of the Holy Rosary, the Holy Father spoke the following words, which were then repeated in various languages so that non-Italian speaking pilgrims and visitors who were present for the General Audience would understand the change in the format.

Greetings of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
prior to the recitation of the rosary

I had prepared the Catechesis for today, as for all Wednesdays during this Year of Mercy, focusing on the closeness of Jesus. However, on hearing the news of the earthquake that struck central Italy, which has devastated entire areas and left many wounded, I cannot fail to express my heartfelt sorrow and spiritual closeness to all those present in the zones affected. I also express my condolences to those who have lost loved ones and my spiritual support to those who are anxious and afraid. Hearing the Mayor of Amatrice say that the town no longer exists, and learning that there are children among the dead, I am deeply saddened.

For this reason I want to assure all the people of Accumoli, Amatrice, and beyond, in the Dioceses of Rieti, Ascoli Piceno, and all the people of Lazio, Umbria and le Marche, of the prayer and close solidarity of the entire Church who in these moments extends her maternal love. We too present in this square offer you our embrace.

In thanking all the volunteer and rescue personnel who are assisting these people, I ask you to join me in praying to the Lord Jesus, who is always moved by compassion before the reality of human suffering, that he may console the broken hearted and, by the intercession of the Virgin Mary, bring them peace.

With Jesus let our hearts be moved with compassion.

And so we will postpone this week’s Catechesis to next Wednesday. I invite you to pray with me a part of the Holy Rosary, the Sorrowful Mysteries:

Following the recitation of the sorrowful mysteries, the Holy Father offered greetings to each group of pilgrims in attendance.  To English-speaking pilgrims, he said:

I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, particularly those from Ireland, Iraq, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam and the United States of America. My special greeting goes to the members of the International Paralympic Committee and the athletes preparing for the forthcoming Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. I also greet the participants in the General Assembly promoted by the World Conference of Secular Institutes. With prayerful good wishes that the present Jubilee of Mercy will be a moment of grace and spiritual renewal for you and your families, I invoke upon all of you joy and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ.

At the conclusion of the General Audience, the Holy Father called for prayers for the people of Ukraine:

During these past few weeks, international observers have expressed concern for the worsening situation in Eastern Ukraine.  Today, while this beloved nation is celebrating her national feast, which coincides this year with the 25th anniversary of its independence, I offer my prayer for peace and renew my call to all parties involved and to the international bodies to strengthen their initiatives to resolve the conflict, to secure the release of hostages and to respond to this humanitarian emergency.
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