Pope Francis marked the anniversary of a 2004 fire in an Argentinean nightclub that killed 194 people. As bishop of Buenos Aires, the future Pope forged close relationships with the families of the victims.
In a message to the archbishop of Buenos Aires, Mario Aurelio Poli, the Holy Father recalled the Dec. 30, 2004, fire in the discotheque of Cromanon. In addition to the 194 people who died, several hundred were wounded.
The blaze began when New Year’s Eve flares were set off during the performance of a band. Hundreds of people were trapped as some of the exit doors were chained shut.
The fire was taken as a symbol of government failure because the club had a permit to operate despite lacking basic fire safety measures.
In the Pope’s message, he noted his prayer that “the Lord may heal wounds, help towards true justice and give His eternal peace to those who died there.”
Here is a translation of the Pope’s note to Cardinal Poli:
“Dear Brother, I know that today you will preside over a Eucharist on the 10th anniversary of Cromanon. To you and all those taking part I express the certainty of my closeness and prayer. May the Lord heal wounds, help towards true justice and give His eternal peace to those who died there.
“I cannot forget that night and the following days, visiting the hospitals. Today, 10 years later, I pray with you and continue to walk with you. May Jesus bless you all and the Holy Virgin look after you. And please, do not forget to pray for me. Fraternally, Francis.”