Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Pope’s secretary of state, sent a note Thursday on the Holy Father’s behalf to Archbishop Orani João Tempesta of Rio de Janeiro.
“The Supreme Pontiff wishes to assure all the local communities of his closeness, commending the victims to the mercy of God and praying for consolation and support for their families, the wounded and those who have lost their goods,” he said.
The papal message assured that the Holy Father “invokes comforting divine grace” and gives his apostolic blessing for “all those who have been tested by this tragedy, not forgetting the persons who participate in rescue and assistance operations.”
Brazil’s national conference of bishops expressed in a statement Thursday its “consternation and profound sorrow” over “the tragedy caused by the rains that have affected the state of Rio de Janeiro in recent days, leaving a sad balance of thousands of displaced and hundreds of dead.”
“We consider irreparable the sorrow and suffering of those who have lost relatives, friends, their homes and goods that enabled them to live with dignity,” they added.
However the bishops lauded the “innumerable gestures of solidarity” coming from the Brazilian people, saying these must “be a remedy to attenuate the sorrow and exhort to hope all those who have been most directly affected by this unprecedented calamity.”