BUENOS AIRES — Pope Francis sent a letter offering his continued condolences to the mother of one of the victims of a 2012 Argentina train crash that killed dozens of people and injured hundreds more.
According to the Argentina Catholic Information Agency (AICA), the letter was read during a recent ceremony at the station where the accident occurred, marking the anniversary of the tragedy.
The accident took place Feb. 22, 2012, when the brakes failed on a train arriving at a Buenos Aires train station, causing it to crash into the platform.
The eight-car train was carrying more than 1,200 passengers. Fifty-two people died, and 702 were injured in the accident.
“That day grieved us all … victims of dismal negligence,” the Pope said in his letter. “I remember those 52 people. My heart is saddened, and I weep for you.”
Paolo Menghini, the father of one of the victims, said that, one week after the accident, he and his family were invited to meet with then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, who is now Pope Francis.
“He encouraged us; he hugged each one of us and reached out to us, regardless of whether we were practicing Catholics, and he gave us his support as a pastor,” Menghini said.
The ceremony to commemorate the second anniversary of the tragedy began with the sounding of a siren at 8:32am, the exact moment at which the train crashed into the platform at the station.
“Today, we are all united,” said Father Diego Fares, who has provided spiritual counseling to the families. “It is a time of understanding and communion. If it had been us who died, our families and friends would be here.”
“Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied,” he added.
“The story of the victims has become sacred,” Father Fares told those gathered for the memorial.
Auxiliary Bishop Eduardo Garcia presided at a Mass at the cathedral of Buenos Aires in memory of those who died in the train crash. In his homily, he said that “the love we have for our loved ones is something that death cannot kill.”
At the conclusion of the Mass, the names of each of those who died in the accident were read aloud.