Today, bishops from two committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), expressed their profound sorrow at the loss of three American crew members when a firefighting air tanker crashed in the state of New South Wales in Australia. Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, offered the following statement:
“As the people of Australia continue to endure terrible fires, let us renew our prayer and generosity. Today, the suffering was brought even closer to home with the loss of three brave American crew members who died in the crash of a tanker airplane used in fighting wildfires in Australia. We join in prayerful solidarity with their families and with all the people of Australia and all those in regions affected by these terrible fires. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of those who are suffering from this tragedy and from the disaster these dedicated professionals were fighting. In our prayer, we recall in trust that Jesus is the resurrection and the life, offering Himself to us and calling us to Himself even in our hardest hour.
“We join with Archbishop José Gomez, president of the USCCB, as expressed in his solidarity letter to the president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, in the heartfelt prayers offered by the bishops of Australia in response to the terrible wildfires that have affected that nation and claimed the lives of so many individuals. We call upon the faithful to support, through their petitions and concern, the efforts at extinguishment and recovery taking place throughout in response to these fires. It is in unity with the bishops of Australia that we encourage the faithful and all appropriate parties to be generous in their financial support of these recovery efforts. We pray for the safety and wellbeing of those affected and those fighting the fires, and hope for the eventual restoration of the homes and natural habitats that have been destroyed.”