At the request of the Holy Father, as of June 2022 the Historical Archive of the Secretariat of State – Section for Relations with States and International Organizations (ASRS) is allowing universal access to the virtual reproduction of an entire archival series on its website: https://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/secretariat_state/sezione-rapporti-stati/archivio-storico/serie-ebrei/serie-ebrei_it.html

The documentary series, pertaining to Pius XII’s pontificate (open to researchers since 2 March 2020), is titled “Ebrei” [Jews/Jewish people] because its aim is to preserve the petitions for help from Jewish people all over Europe, received by the Pope during the Nazi-Fascist persecutions.

The archival series consists of a total of 170 volumes, equivalent to nearly 40,000 digital files. An initial 70% of the complete material will be made available initially, before being integrated with the final volumes that are currently being worked on.

Archbishop Paul Gallagher, secretary for Relations with States, accompanied the press office announcement with a longer commentary and photos of the just-released archival material.

I personally found his account so fascinating that I have re-printed it here in its entirety.

“If I am writing to You today, it is to ask you to help me from afar”. Thousands of archived files that give voice to desperate calls for help. Like this one (above), from a 23-year old German university student “with Israelite origins”, who was baptized in 1938, and who, on 17 January 1942, made a last effort to free himself from detention in a concentration camp in Miranda de Ebro, Spain. He finally had the opportunity to join his mother who had fled to America in 1939, “to prepare a new life for me”, he wrote. Everything was ready for departure from Lisbon. The only thing missing was the intervention “of someone from outside” so that the authorities would consent to his liberation. “There is little hope for those who have no outside help”, he explains with few, but eloquent words. He then writes to an old Italian friend, asking her to ask Pope Pius XII to have the Apostolic Nuncio in Madrid intervene in his favour, knowing that: “with this intervention from Rome, others had been able to leave the concentration camp.”

He further explains: “In the following two documents, we discover that the Secretariat of State had addressed the case in a few days, “newly” bringing it to the attention of the Nuncio in Madrid. Then the paper trail is interrupted. It is silent about the fate of this young German student. As for the majority of requests for help witnessed by other cases, the result of the request was not reported. In our hearts, we immediately inevitably hope for a positive outcome, the hope that Werner Barasch was later freed from the concentration camp and was able to reach his mother overseas. In this specific case, our wish was granted: an internet search reveals traces of him in 2001. Not only is there an autobiography that recounts his memories as a “survivor”, but among the online collections of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, there is even a video with a long interview, in which Werner Barasch tells his incredible story in person, at the age of 82 (Oral History N. RG 050.477.0392). We thus learn that he was released from the Miranda camp the year after his appeal in a letter to the Pope, and that in 1945, he was finally able to join his mother in the United States. There, he continued his studies there at University of California, Berkeley, MIT and University of Colorado. He then worked as a chemist in California. Thanks to ever more rich online resources, this time we can draw a breath of relief.”

Abp. Gallagher writes that the just-released archive documents are “a special documentary heritage that distinguishes itself from other archival series, already from the name assigned to it: “Ebrei” (Jews). A heritage that is precious because it gathers the requests for help sent to Pope Pius XII by Jewish people, both the baptized and the non baptized, after the beginning of Nazi and fascist persecution. A heritage which, at the request of Pope Francis, is now easily accessible to the entire world thanks to a project aimed at publishing the complete digitalized version of the archival series.

“It is the Jewish series of the Historical Archives of the Secretariat of State – Section for Relations with States and International Organizations (ASRS). The series of 170 volumes in total are part of the Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs Collection (AA.EE.SS.) related to the Pontificate of Pius XII — Part 1 (1939-1948), and already available for consultation since 2 March 2020, in the Reading Room of the Historical Archives, by worldwide scholars.

“The then Sacred Congregation for the Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs (from which the archival Collection gets its name), equivalent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, charged a diplomatic minutante (Msgr Angelo Dell’Acqua) to manage the requests for help that were addressed to the Pope from all over Europe, with the aim of providing all the help possible.”

“Requests could be made to obtain visas or passports to expatriate, find asylum, reunify families, obtain liberation from detention and transfers from one concentration camp to another, receive news regarding deported people, supplies of food or clothing, financial support, spiritual support and much more.

“Each of these requests constituted a case which, once processed, was destined for storage in a documentary series entitled “Jews”. It contains more than 2,700 cases with requests for help almost always for entire families or groups of people. Thousands of people persecuted for their membership to the Jewish religion, or for merely having “non-Aryan” ancestry, turned to the Vatican, in the knowledge that others had received help, like the young Werner Barasch himself writes.

“The requests would arrive at the Secretariat of State, where diplomatic channels would try to provide all the help possible, taking into account the complexity of the political situation in the global context.

“After the pontificate of Pius XII was opened to consultation in 2020, this special list of names was given the name, “Pacelli’s list, (Pope Pius XII), echoing the well-known “Schindler’s list”. Although the two cases differ, the analogy perfectly expresses the idea that people in the corridors of the institution at the service of the Pontiff, worked tirelessly to provide Jewish people with practical help. Online publication of the Archival Series.

“As of June 2022, the “Jews” series will be available for consultation on the internet in its virtual version, freely accessible to all on the website of the Historical Archive of the Secretariat of State – Section for Relations with States and International Organizations.

“In addition to the photographic reproduction of each individual document, a file with the analytical inventory of the series, including all the names of the recipients of help reported in the documents, will also be available online. Seventy percent of the material will initially be available online, which will be followed with the latest volumes currently being worked on.

As for the request of Werner Barasch, the majority of the over 2,700 cases that reached the Secretariat of State, which today narrate the many stories of attempts to flee racial persecution, leave us with baited breath, and sources with further information cannot always be found. Making the digitalized version of the entire Jews/Jewish people series available on the internet will allow the descendants of those who asked for help, to find traces of their loved ones from any part of the world. At the same time, it will allow scholars and anyone interested, to freely examine this special archival heritage, from a distance.”


Instead of writing this column, I’d actually like to cross the street and go into St. Peter’s Basilica for some quiet prayer. I’d like to spend some time at the Altar of St. Joseph, that saintly, humble man who was the head of the Holy Family and putative father of Jesus. I’d then cross to the right aisle of the basilica to spend some time in meditation before Michelangelo’s Pieta, the magnificent statue that depicts a sorrowful Mary holding the body of her crucified Son.

After talking to Mary, I’d move on down the right aisle just a few feet to the Chapel of St. Sebastian and kneel in prayer before the tomb of St. John Paul, the pontiff who wrote so magnificently about the family, about marriage, about “Love and Responsibility,” and who instituted the World Meetings of Families.

And how could I not spend time in prayer at the tomb of the first Pope I ever saw, St. John XXIII! He wrote so lovingly and beautiful about the family and marriage – and it is the question of marriage – the utter, total redefining of marriage –  that is tearing my heart apart today.

This is why I want to pray so badly – pray for our nation where the Supreme Court has just decided that same sex marriage must be allowed in all 50 U.S. states.

I cannot write a reasonable and well-thought-out column on this subject today.  I have seen television commentary and I have downloaded Chief Justice Roberts’ dissent and have started to read that 6,033 word document.  I not only have fears about traditional marriage, I have fears about religious freedom, fears that Chief Justice Roberts expresses in his dissent.

For now, here are Chief Justice Roberts’ final words in his dissent:

“If you are among the many Americans—of whatever sexual orientation—who favor     expanding same-sex mar­riage, by all means celebrate today’s decision. Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the oppor­tunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it. I respectfully dissent.”

On June 29, 1959, St. John XXIII’s Encyclical “Ad Petri cathedram” was published. In that beautiful document, which should be read and re-read as it addresses truth, unity, the moral life and peace in what has been called “a fatherly message … addressing (these) issues with warmth and concern.”

In that document, St. John wrote:All the evils that poison men and nations and trouble so many hearts have a single cause and a single source: ignorance of the truth—and at times even more than ignorance, a contempt for truth and a reckless rejection of it.”

Ora pro nobis!


Pope Francis on Monday, June 29, the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles, in St. Peter’s Basilica will give the pallium to the 46 new metropolitan archbishops whom he has named since July 1, 2014.  June 29 is a holiday in Rome as well as the Vatican.

Earlier this year Francis changed the traditional ceremony in which the prelates receive the pallium, deciding that the public ceremony of investiture of the pallium on metropolitan archbishops will henceforth take place in their home dioceses and not in the Vatican as has been the case under recent pontiffs. The Holy Father will concelebrate Mass with the archbishops on June 29 and afterwards will give each metropolitan the pallium “in a private manner,” not placing it on their shoulders as seen here.

POPE- Pallium

Guido Marini, Master of Liturgical Ceremonies of the Supreme Pontiff, broke the news in a January 12 letter to nuncios in countries where metropolitan archbishops had been named to receive the pallium from the Pope in the Vatican on June 29.

Msgr. Marini, in an interview with Vatican Radio, said: “Pope Francis believes that this new custom can serve to advance that journey of synodality in the Catholic Church which, from the beginning of his pontificate, he has constantly emphasized as particularly urgent and precious at this time in the history of the Church.”

The pallium will be blessed during the Mass on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul in the Vatican, but placed on the metropolitan archbishop in his own diocese by the papal representative, the apostolic nuncio, in the country. The ceremony is to be determined individually with each new metropolitan.

The pallium, which is placed on the shoulders of each archbishop and worn at all liturgical ceremonies in his own archdiocese, is a band of white wool with two hanging pieces, front and back, that is decorated with six black crosses and represents the authority of a metropolitan archbishop and unity with the Holy Father.  The Pope also wears a pallium. The wool used in weaving the palliums comes from baby lambs  – lambs under one year of age – that are blessed each year in the basilica of St. Agnes in Rome on her January 21 feast day and then brought to the apostolic palace to the Holy Father.


Pope emeritus Benedict XVI explained “the symbolism of the pallium” in a very concrete way in his homily when he inaugurated his Petrine ministry on April 24, 2005 and said, “the lamb’s wool is meant to represent the lost, the sick or weak sheep which the shepherd places on his shoulders to carry to the waters of life.”

Click here to see the names of those who will reeive the pallium:  http://www.news.va/en/news/metropolitan-archbishops-to-receive-the-pallium


On Friday, June 26, 2015 at the Vatican Apostolic Palace, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States, and Dr. Riad Al-Malki, minister of Foreign Affairs, of the State of Palestine, signed a Comprehensive Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Palestine.

-Sala dei Trattati-Firma Accordo tra la Santa Sede e la Palestina   26-06-2015  - (Copyright L'OSSERVATORE ROMANO - Servizio Fotografico - photo@ossrom.va)

-Sala dei Trattati-Firma Accordo tra la Santa Sede e la Palestina 26-06-2015
– (Copyright L’OSSERVATORE ROMANO – Servizio Fotografico – photo@ossrom.va)

The accord follows on the Basic Agreement that was signed between the Holy See and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) on February 15, 2000 and is the result of the negotiations undertaken by a bilateral working commission over the past number of years.

Others who took part in the ceremony include, for the Holy See: Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto, Apostolic Delegate to Jerusalem and Palestine; Archbishop Antonio Franco, Apostolic Nuncio, and Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Twal; Msgr. Antoine Camilleri, Under-Secretary for Relations with States; Fr. Lorenzo Lorusso, O.P., Under-Secretary of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches; Msgr. Alberto Ortega, Official of the Section for Relations with States of the Secretariat of State; Msgr. Paolo Borgia, Official of the Section for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State; and Fr. Oscar Marzo, O.F.M., member of the Custody of the Holy Land and Official of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.

For the State of Palestine: His Excellency Dr. Ramzi Khoury, Advisor to the President, Deputy Head of the Presidential Higher Committee on Church Affairs in Palestine; Ambassador Issa Kassissieh, Representative of the State of Palestine to the Holy See; Ambassador Rawan Sulaiman, Assistant Foreign Minister for Multilateral Affairs; Mrs. Vera Baboun, Mayor of Bethlehem; Mr. Moussa Abu Hadeed, Mayor of Ramallah; Mr. Ammar Hijazi, Deputy Assistant Foreign Minister for Multilateral Affairs; Mr. Azem Bishara, Legal Advisor of the PLO; Mr. Ammar Nisnas, Counselor of the Diplomatic Representation of the State of Palestine to the Holy See.

The Agreement is comprised of a Preamble and 32 Articles distributed in 8 Chapters. It deals with essential aspects of the life and activity of the Catholic Church in the State of Palestine, while reaffirming support for a negotiated and peaceful resolution of the situation in the region.

The Agreement shall come into force when both Parties have notified each other in writing that the constitutional or internal requirements for the coming into force of the Agreement have been met.

Archbishop Gallagher, welcomed the delegations, saying the Agreement “marks an important step on the path of good relations which for some time have happily existed between the Parties.”

He noted that, in contrast with the February 2000 Agreement, “the present one is being signed by the Holy See and the State of Palestine; this is indicative of the progress made by the Palestinian Authority in recent years, and above all of the level of international support, which culminated in the Resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations of 29 November 2012, which recognized Palestine as a non-member Observer State at the United Nations.

“In this context,” said the archbishop, “it is my hope that the present Agreement may in some way be a stimulus to bringing a definitive end to the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which continues to cause suffering for both Parties. I also hope that the much desired two-State solution may become a reality as soon as possible. The peace process can move forward only if it is directly negotiated between the Parties, with the support of the international community. This certainly requires courageous decisions, but it will also offer a major contribution to peace and stability in the region. “

Archbishop Gallagher went on to note that, “the Comprehensive Agreement, while constituting an understanding between two subjects of international law, basically concerns the life and activity of the Church in Palestine. In this respect, I am pleased that juridical recognition is clearly established and that guarantees have been given for the work of the Catholic Church and her institutions. Catholics do not seek any privilege other than continued cooperation with their fellow-citizens for the good of society. I am also pleased to say that the local Church, which has been actively involved in the negotiations, is satisfied with the goal attained and is happy to see the strengthening of its good relations with the civil Authorities.

“In the complex reality of the Middle East, where in some countries Christians have even suffered persecution, this Agreement offers a good example of dialogue and cooperation, and I earnestly hope that this may serve as a model for other Arab and Muslim majority countries. With this in mind, I would like to emphasize the importance of the chapter dedicated to freedom of religion and freedom of conscience. (source: news.va)



“Plus ça change, plus ça reste le meme” – the more things change, the more they remain the same – is definitely not how one would characterize the changes Pope Francis is making at theVatican, in the Roman Curia and in appointments and nominations around the world. Witness his creation of the Prefecture of the Economy, vast changes in personnel and methodology at the Vatican Bank, a change in methodology at the Synod of Bishops, and some nominations in the Roman Curia.

This weekend, for example:

Several big changes in the Roman Curia were announced on Saturday, including naming Cardinal Raymond Burke, up to Saturday the prefect of the Vatican’s supreme tribunal, the Apostolic Signatura, as patron of the Hospitaller Order of Malta. His removal from the tribunal was first suggested in the Italian press in September and had been confirmed by the cardinal himself in October. Cardinal Burke is quite young at 66, to have mere ceremonial duties, such as those at the Order of Malta. And young not to have been assigned to another area of almost equal responsibility within the curia. It is this that surprises most people and I know that as long as I have been covering the Church I don’t remember a similar case regarding a cardinal.

Although it was said during the synod that labels such as “liberal” and “conservative” are unhelpful and should not be used by the Church to describe a person, Cardinal Burke is well known for his entrenched conservative positions on Church teaching and doctrine. Last February for example,when Cardinal Kasper gave a talk to the College of Cardinals and, among other things, suggested the Church should re-think commuion for the divorced and remarried, Cardinal Burke was among the first to remind people of the Church’s teaching on the matter – a matter that was the focus of much attention at the synod on the family.

It is also well known that Pope Francis is making mercy, forgiveness and reconciliation a hallmark of his pontificate rather than rigidly standing by a Church teaching.

How to reconcile the two seems to be an issue in this case and may be in other cases, as only time will tell. Does the Pope stress mercy too much, with not enough emphasis on teaching? Does Cardinal Burke stress Church teaching too much, with not enough emphasis on mercy?

One thing can be said: Huge numbers of faithful Catholics were dismayed by Cardinal Burke’s being sidelined, “demoted” as many here are saying, and want to know the reason why.

A number of people pointed out to me over the weekend that Cardinal Burke, no longer a member of the Roman Curia, will have more time to lecture and to write so his thoughts and teachings will surely not be lost.

In another appointment Saturday, history was made when Pope Francis appointed English Archbishop Paul Gallagher as Secretary for Relations with States. An able, experienced, multi-lingual highly respected diplomat, Abp. Gallagher is the first Englishman to hold the post. Below is a fine Vatican Radio interview with the new Secretary for Relations with States. I met the archbishop on several occasions when he and I were both working for the Vatican from 1995 to 2000.

He replaces Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, a native of Corsica, who now heads to the Apostolic Signatura.

Pope Francis’ words at the Angelus Sunday about the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall mademe reflect on that great day 25 years ago – November 9, 1989. I had lived in Europe for a dozen years but in 1989 I was in Southern California and I watched all the earth-shatteringly wonderful events on television. Only someone who had lived under communism and under the dominance of the Soviets or, if not in Soviet lands, in lands where it seemed we were always on the brink of a nuclear war or mutually assured destruction known as MAD, as key phrase in those days, could understand the scope and significance of the Berlin walls coming down.

The wall was built in August 1961, just days before I left Europe for the U.S. after a year of study abroad at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland. That wall, guarded by machine-gun toting soldiers, guard dogs and barbed wire for decades, was taken apart, stone by stone, brick by brick, by free men on one side and soon-to-be free men on the other.

I had seen the infamous wall up-close and personal during our 1961 winter vacation break in Austria when, shortly after New Year’s Day, we went to the Austrian-Hungarian border on a dark, cold, gray winter day. We saw the gun-toting guards as they walked back and forth and a thousand questions arose in our hearts: Why did they believe in communism? Would they really shoot someone trying to escape to the other side (and guards did – so often!)? Weren’t they just young men who were frozen and would rather be at home or in a warm office, sipping tea? So many questions!

As I watched on TV, I loudly cheered on the Berliners and everyone else who was there and trying to change history. I was almost jealous of those people as I knew that, had I still been living in Rome, I’d have taken an overnight train to Berlin to be part of history.

A year later, however, I was, in a small way, a part of history.

I had been working at the Vatican Information Service just over two months on November 19, 1990 when I was asked if I wanted to go to the Secretariat of State where Pope John Paul was scheduled to welcome Mikhail Gorbachev. It was an unbelievable moment for me as I stood in the presence of these two men – two of the three men credited with the fall of the Berlin Wall (President Ronald Reagan being the third) that led, shortly after that, to the collapse of the Soviet empire.

I was about 20 or so feet away from both men and I was totally struck by the warm and friendly atmosphere. John Paul and Gorbachev seemed like two family members, reuniting after many years. It was a moment – just as the fall of the wall a year earlier had been – that you don’t think you will live long enough to see. I was mesmerized to say the very least!

John Paul helped achieve the fall of the wall and of communism but he was never able to realize his cherished dream of visiting Russia. (Read his remarks at the Angelus below)


(Vatican Radio) On Saturday Pope Francis appointed Liverpool native Archbishop Paul Gallagher to the post of Secretary for Relations with States, thus making him the first native English speaker to hold the position that is to all intents and purposes the Vatican’s Foreign Minister.

In an interview with Emer McCarthy, Archbishop Gallagher says he is “honored and humbled” that the Holy Father chose him, but at the same time “inevitably a little fearful” at taking on such major responsibilities. (Photo from news.va)


These responsibilities include overseeing the Second Section of the Secretariat, which has the specific duty of attending to matters which involve civil governments and international organisms.  Archbishop Gallagher will work directly under the presidency of the Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin. Traditionally the Secretaries for Relations with States are chosen from the Holy See’s diplomatic corps, drawing from their experience as papal representatives to nations around the world.

In this, Archbishop Gallagher is uniquely placed.  In a ministry that has spanned thirty years he has served in Nunciatures in Tanzania, Uruguay and the Philippines and as Nuncio to Burundi, Guatemala and most recently Australia.

In fact, Archbishop Gallagher credits the “many people I have worked with, the Nuncios who I served with years ago” as having inspired him in his life. “Obviously”, he says “when I went to Burundi in 2004 I followed Archbishop Michael Courtney who had been assassinated.  To follow a man who had made the ultimate sacrifice that indeed was very significant”.

The Archbishop continued: “As you work around the world in the Nunciatures – whether it’s as a priest or a Nuncio – you see a microcosm of these problems that the world is facing [and that they] are inter-related. Certainly right now we have an enormous problem in terms of the development of peoples and societies, their aspirations, where they are going.  We have a number of conflicts that are emerging because of poverty and under-development.  The world is becoming increasingly polarized and therefore they feel that their ambitions are thwarted and this therefore leads people into desperate situations”.

Archbishop Gallagher has also served as an Observer at the European Parliament in Strasbourg which Pope Francis is due to address next week.  Moreover he has Curia experience, having worked in its Second Section, from 1995 to 2000 at the same time as the present Secretary of State Card. Parolin. “I also was very much encouraged by the many of the people I worked with in the Secretariat of State when I was there” he says.  “You do get the occasional careerist, but I felt the majority of the people I was working with were very highly motivated indeed”.

All of these experiences he says have convinced him that the role of Papal Diplomat is “a valid ministry and contribution”.  “I’m not sure that I go along with the idea that to be a papal diplomat is a vocation because I think that you have to jealously preserve your priestly vocation in the midst of this if you are going to do something really positive.  But certainly it’s a calling within the Church that is extremely valid and can make a great contribution both to the Church in terms of communications, representations, explaining the local Church to Rome and explaining Rome to the local Church as I frequently say”.

This Archbishop Gallagher concludes is a question of building on the rich History of the Church in the diplomatic field: “My experience is that there is very little hostility towards the Holy See as an entity, rather they do see a value in it.  We work to make a contribution that is obviously grounded in our faith but also in the experience and history of our Church”.


At noon Sunday, as is customary, the Holy Father appeared at the window of his study in the Apostolic Palace to pray the Angelus with the faithful gathered below in St. Peter’s Square. In pre-Angelus reflections, he noted that today’s liturgy recalls the November 9, 324 dedication by Pope Sylvester I of the Basilica of St. John Lateran. The cathedral of Rome – the church of the bishop of Rome, the Pope – is traditionally defined as omnium urbis et orbis ecclesiarum mater et caput – the “mother of all the churches in the city and in the world..”

Pope Francis said, “The term ‘mother’ refers not only to the sacred building of the basilica, but also to the work of the Holy Spirit, made manifest in this building and fruitful through the ministry of the Bishop of Rome, in all the communities in unity with the Church over whom He presides. Every time we celebrate the dedication of a church, an essential truth is recalled to us: the material temple made of bricks is a sign of the living Church at work in history, that ‘spiritual temple’ … of which Christ Himself is ‘a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight’.”

After praying the Angelus, the Pope noted that precisely 25 years ago today, November 9, 1989, history recorded the fall of the Berlin Wall “which had long divided the city in two and was a symbol of the ideological division of Europe and the entire world. It took place suddenly, but it had been made possible by the long and tireless efforts of many people who fought, prayed and suffered for it; some of them even sacrificed their lives.” He explained that, “among these people, St. John Paul II played a central role. Let us pray that, with the Lord’s help and the collaboration of all persons of good will, a culture of encounter may become ever more widespread, able to bring down all the walls that continue to divide the world; and that innocent people will never more be persecuted and even killed for their beliefs and their religion. Where there is a wall, there is a closed heart. We need bridges, not walls!”


Monday, Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, in Pope Francis’ name, sent a telegram to Bishop Jose Manuel Lorca Planes of Cartagena, Spain, upon hearing the news of a serious road accident in the city of Cieza that claimed many victims, including the young pastor of Bullas, Rev. Fr. Miguel Conesa Andujar, and parishioners returning home from a trip to Madrid.

The Pope is “deeply saddened, and raises fervent prayers to God for the eternal repose of the souls of the departed, for the full recovery of the injured, and for the consolation of those who have lost their loved ones.” In the words of Francis: “I urge the sons and daughters of these noble lands to find in faith the encouragement and the strength of spirit to overcome these painful circumstances, and impart to them the comfort of my apostolic blessing, as a sign of hope in the risen Christ.”