Pope Praying for Japan's Quake Victims

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 11, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is assuring the victims of the 8.9 magnitude earthquake that hit off the north eastern coast of Japan today of his prayers and spiritual closeness.

The quake, one of the biggest to have ever hit Japan, struck 80 miles off the coast of Sendai, north of Tokyo, and triggered a 32-foot tsunami that swept everything in its path, including houses, infrastructure, ships, cars and farm buildings on fire.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s secretary of state, sent a telegram on behalf of the Pope to Archbishop Leo Jun Ikenaga of Osaka, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan. It read: «Deeply saddened by the sudden and tragic effects of the massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit coastal regions of northeastern Japan, Pope Benedict XVI assures his closeness to the victims in this difficult time.»

The telegram adds that the Pope «prays for all those who died, and their families and friends in mourning, and invokes divine blessings of strength and consolation. The Holy Father also expresses his prayerful solidarity with all those involved in rescue operations and providing relief and support to victims of this disaster.»

Sendai has been the hardest hit by the disaster, where up to 300 bodies have found.

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