Pope Mourns Portuguese Flood Victims

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 23, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is expressing his concern and promising prayers after heavy rains last Saturday caused flash floods on the autonomous Portuguese island of Madeira.

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In a papal telegram to Bishop António José Cavaco Carrilho of Funchal, sent through the Pope’s secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, he offered his condolences to the families of the dozens who died. The death toll was at 42 today, but search teams were still working to find 13 missing.

«The Supreme Pontiff wishes to express to the whole local community his concern, entrusting the victims to the mercy of God and praying for consolation and support for their families, the wounded, and those who have lost their possessions,» the telegram states.
Benedict XVI also blessed them and invoked «comforting divine graces» for «all those tried by this tragedy, not forgetting the persons who take part in rescue and assistance work.»
Meanwhile, the diocesan Caritas of Funchal continues to work on site, supporting those affected by Saturday’s storm.

It has arranged temporary housing for some 400 people, as well as organizing a system to receive and distribute aid, including medicines, clothes and canned food.
A group of some 100 scouts of the Catholic Scout Movement is collaborating with the Municipality of Funchal in the cleanup.
Bishop Cavaco Carrilho presided over a funeral for the victims in St. Anthony’s Cemetery, as well as a funeral for a fireman who died as a result of the storm.

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