Vatican City, Nov 10, 2013 / 06:28 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis sent a message of prayer and encouragement to those who were affected by the huge storm that swept across the Philippines on Friday.
Vatican Secretary of State Archbishop Pietro Parolin sent a telegram on behalf of the Pontiff to the Philippine president, Benigno Aquino III, on Nov. 10, saying, “Deeply saddened by the destruction and loss of life caused by the super typhoon, His Holiness Pope Francis expresses his heartfelt solidarity with all those affected by this storm and its aftermath.”
Early reports suggest that the storm - called Typhoon Haiyan internationally and Yolanda in the Philippines - may have claimed up to 10,000 lives, with thousands of others affected by the devastation left in its wake.
The Pope also shared his concern for the victims with pilgrims at today’s Angelus in Rome. “I want to assure the people of the Philippines and of that region who were struck by the terrible typhoon of my closeness,” he said.
The crowds who were gathered for the noontime prayer in St. Peter’s Square clapped in solidarity.
“Unfortunately, the victims were many and the damage enormous,” Pope Francis continued.
“Let us pray a moment in silence, to the Madonna, for these our brothers and sisters,” he asked.
The square packed with pilgrims fell silent for a moment before the Pope led everyone in a Hail Mary.
The Pontiff then exhorted, “let us try also to reach out to them with practical help.”
Secretary of State Parolin’s message explained that Pope Francis “is especially mindful of those who mourn the loss of their loved ones and of those who have lost their homes.”
“In praying for all the people of the Philippines, the Holy Father likewise offers encouragement to the civil authorities and emergency personnel as they assist the victims of this storm,” it continued.
“He invokes divine blessings of strength and consolation for the Nation,” the message concluded.