Here is the Vatican-provided translation of the off-the-cuff remarks Pope Francis gave during this morning’s General Audience in St. Peter’s Square, as he decided to postpone this week’s catechesis until next week, in order to speak about the tragic earthquake that hit Central Italy in the early hours of Wednesday morning and to invite those present to join him in saying the rosary’s sorrowful mysteries for its victims.
Also below is a Vatican Radio-provided translation of the Pope’s appeal for peace in Ukraine, made at the conclusion of today’s audience:
Unscripted Remarks Given Instead of Catechesis:
I had prepared the Catechesis for today, as for all Wednesdays during this Year of Mercy, focusing on the closeness of Jesus. However, on hearing the news of the earthquake that struck central Italy, which has devastated entire areas and left many wounded, I cannot fail to express my heartfelt sorrow and spiritual closeness to all those present in the zones affected. I also express my condolences to those who have lost loved ones and my spiritual support to those who are anxious and afraid. Hearing the Mayor of Amatrice say that “the town no longer exists”, and learning that there are children among the dead, I am deeply saddened.
For this reason I want to assure all the people of Accumoli, Amatrice, and beyond, in the Dioceses of Rieti, Ascoli Piceno, and all the people of Lazio, Umbria and le Marche, of the prayer and close solidarity of the entire Church who in these moments extends her maternal love. We too present in this square offer you our embrace.
In thanking all the volunteer and rescue personnel who are assisting these people, I ask you to join me in praying to the Lord Jesus, who is always moved by compassion before the reality of human suffering, that he may console the broken hearted and, by the intercession of the Virgin Mary, bring them peace.
With Jesus, let our hearts be moved with compassion.
And so we will postpone this week’s Catechesis to next Wednesday. I invite you to pray with me a part of the Holy Rosary, the Sorrowful Mysteries:[Original text: Italian] [Vatican-provided Translation]
Appeal for Ukraine:
In these last weeks, the international Observers have expressed concern for the worsening situation in eastern Ukraine. Today, as that dear Nation celebrates its national holiday – which this year coincides with the 25th anniversary of independence – I assure them of my prayer for peace and I renew my appeal to all the parties involved and to the international bodies that they might strengthen the initiatives to resolve the conflict, release the hostages, and respond to the humanitarian emergency[Original text: Italian] [Translation by Vatican Radio]