Pope Francis arrived to New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral this evening to pray Vespers with clergy and religious of the archdiocese. He began his homily expressing his closeness to “my Muslim brothers and sisters” for the tragedy that occurred today near Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
“In these moments of prayer, I unite myself and we unite ourselves in prayer to God, our Father, all Powerful and Merciful,” he said.
The stampede occurred on the first day of the Eid al-Adha holiday, early Thursday. The stampede happened in the narrow streets of Mina, which lies about six miles from Mecca. The pilgrims were on their way to Jamarat, where the ritual of stoning the devil occurs.
The death toll was over 700, with another 850 wounded.
The Hajj pilgrimage is bringing as many as 2 million people to Mecca in these days. It has resulted in tragedy at other times in the past. In 1990, nearly 1,500 pilgrims died in a stampede in a tunnel linking Mecca and Mina.
On ZENIT’s Web page:
Full text of Pope’s homily at Vespers: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/pope-s-address-at-vespers-in-new-york