Pope Benedict XVI has called Archbishop Giuseppe Molinari of L’Aquila to say he plans to visit the earthquake-ravaged region at a time when his visit won’t hamper the rescue operations.

At today’s general audience at the Vatican, the Pope said: “I renew my spiritual closeness to the beloved community of L’Aquila and other counties hardest hit by violent seismic phenomenon of recent days, which caused many casualties, many wounded and massive damage to property. The speed with which authorities, police, volunteers and other rescue workers have come to our brothers illustrates the importance of solidarity in overcoming together such painful trials.”

Added the Holy Father, “Again I say to those dear people that the Pope shares their pain and their concerns. Dear friends, I just hope I can come and find you. Know that the Pope prays for everyone, imploring the mercy of the Lord for the dead, their family members and that the survivors be comforted by the maternal care of Mary and supported by Christian hope.”