Benedict XVI Mourns Paris Fire Victims

14 Immigrant Children Among the Dead

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CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 28, 2005 ( Benedict XVI expressed his grief over the death of African immigrants who died in a tragic fire in Paris.

The Holy Father’s demonstrated his spiritual closeness in a telegram of sympathy sent Saturday by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state, to Archbishop André Vingt-Trois of Paris, published by the Vatican press office.

Friday’s fire claimed the lives of 17 people, including 14 children. Benedict XVI joined the families in their grief and entrusted the victims to the mercy of God.

The Holy Father also prayed that the families of the victims be supported, especially the children, so that they may be helped to bear this trial with fortitude.

The Pope also thanked those who helped rescue many others from the fire, and prayed that they be rewarded with abundant blessings.


The victims of the fire that destroyed the 1920s-era building, in Paris’ 13th district, were primarily from Mali, Gambia, Ivory Coast and Senegal. Another 23 people were injured, two seriously. The building housed 133 people, 100 of them children.

The Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano commented on the event: «Once again children met death where they should have found confidence and hope in the future. Once again, children have died in altogether avoidable circumstances, becoming, to their sorrow, a symbol of the forgotten and marginalized children of our time.»

Vatican Radio reported that hundreds of people protested in front of the charred remains of the building on Friday, highlighting the precariousness in which many immigrants live in the French capital.

In fact, a similar fire last April caused the death of 24 people, 10 of them children, in a boardinghouse in the center of Paris.

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